Scaregrounds event in Lutherville promises frightfully good time

A Lutherville couple with a seemingly endless supply of fake blood and a relentless desire to spill it will host another edition of their Timonium Scaregrounds event this year.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, Steve Bauer and his wife, Marianne Wittlesberger — aka The Jokesters — will invite the community to their fright-filled haunted trail during which Bauer will reprise his "Timoniac" character and do his best to terrorize visitors.

"The whole plot of Timonium Scaregrounds is that we're capturing teenagers, we're grinding them up and then we're putting them into corn dogs and we're selling them back to teenagers at the state fair," Bauer devilishly declared.

The event, which will benefit the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company and is now in its third year, has now extended throughout the Seminary Avenue community. Five adjacent neighbors have agreed to allow The Jokesters and their "minions" turn their backyards into a haunted trail.

Despite the rain late last week, Bauer and Wittlesberger were able to rehearse some of their gags and tricks with an ever-growing crew of volunteers. With a longer trail, there is a need for more characters along the way. Bauer anticipated that around 100 people would help in some role, from make-up and set design to ticket-taking and parking.

The couple has used their contacts as professors in Towson University's theater department to draw volunteers to help with the event. Claire Fremuth, is a student in the couple's Stage Makeup 1 class at the school. Sam Lukowski, who has participated in other Jokesters events in the past, was a former student, and Jon Loudenslager is a teaching assistant this year for the couple.

On Friday, Fremuth, Lukowski, Loudenslager and the couple ran through a series of displays that included a game of baseball with a fake severed head as a ball and severed arm as a bat, as well as a gag involving the severed head of a former guest who had written a bad review of the specialty corn dogs.

"There's a really very thin line between laughing very hard and getting scared really hard," Bauer said. "It's the same emotion, it's a release of endorphins. It's a good thing. We always do a scare and a laugh."

"It's like a roller coaster — you get scared and elated at the same time," Wittlesberger said.

This year's edition is the second public event The Jokesters have held at their Lutherville home. In 2010, they staged the Timonium Scaregrounds event at the Timonium Fairgrounds but did not return the following year. The couple held a private party in 2011.

Last year, inclement weather threatened to shut down the event in Lutherville. The area was under a tornado warning so Bauer brought his crew inside when he saw lightning and expected the night would be a wash.

"I walked to the front door and said, 'Who in the heck is opening that front gate and coming down here?'" Bauer said.

"All these people just showed up… I turned around and by the time I told my cast to go out to their places they had already done it. They were already in place … and we had a massive crowd in the thunder and lightning."

Anticipation has been building in the community for this year's event, he said. He expects some 1,000 people to walk the trail through the historic neighborhood's backyards, which he said would be a boon for the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company.

Those who wish to attend Scaregrounds this year are asked to park at the St. John's United Methodist Church at 216 W. Seminary Ave. in Lutherville. From there, guides will point guests to the Bauer's house at 206 W. Seminary Ave. Tickets for the event are $5, and the haunted trail ends back at the church parking lot.

This story has been updated.

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