When students from the local high school want to volunteer their weekends at a haunted house, even if they already have nearly 200 hours of community service, you know it's a success. Such is the case at the Haunted Dungeons at Fort Howard Park.
Dedication is obvious as dozens of local residents show up at the park gate to volunteer their time. Some are wearing costumes, others are talking of slimy maggots in jars, and a few plain-clothed people are just looking to help.
"Most of our adults started off as kids working [here]." states Patty Sauerwald of Edgemere, as her two children, Todd and Lisa, stand by. "I started here before I had kids."
The park is near the water in Sparrows Point, surrounded by a thick forest and sports fields. Historic gun batteries serve as a maze of dungeons, beneath the fields, hidden by trees.
Volunteers apply makeup and fake blood as chain saws are revved and torches are lit. A gentleman with two faces strolls by and introduces himself as Tim May. He sticks out a gnarled hand and shakes with a smile, stretching beneath bloody flaps of skin on his face. May and his family have been working here three years. For May and the nearly 150 other volunteers, there is a strong sense of community.
Students from Sparrows Point Middle School and High School show up in droves, with friends and family, to don white robes and guide visitors from Washington, Pennsylvania and Virginia. It teaches the students respect for the park and "gives back to the community" says Sauerwald.
As the light fades from the sky, volunteers rush to get ready for the first group. Meanwhile, outside the gate, visitors wait in line, some ready, some not, for what's inside. A clown walks by, bearing an evil grin and sharp teeth, as James Morrow and his family wait in line. "I used to volunteer here." he says. For Morrow's 7-year-old nephew, Adam Bennett, this is his first haunted house. When asked if he think's he'll be frightened, Adam stands up straight and exclaims, "I don't think so!"
For Bob and Becky Smith, of Edgemere, this is their 15th year. They've been helping since the beginning and are still working tonight.
Things quiet down and actors take their places as the announcement is made that the first tour group is coming through. Hand-held radios crackle as volunteer security guards and tour guides prepare themselves.
The tour progresses along a wooded path lighted by torches. Tombstones are lit up, and the guides read them aloud for the visitors. Fort Howard has some history behind it: This is where the British landed for the Battle of North Point.
The guide stops in front of a guillotine and gathers the group nearby. Barely recognizable is an executioner draped in black; he speaks directly to the audience, inquiring who the "traitor" is. A few girls from the crowd step back, but a suspect has already been chosen.
Audience participation plays a large role in the effectiveness of the Dungeons. As the group progresses toward the second dungeon, they are stopped by a fortune-teller (Elizabeth Wood, 14, of Edgemere.) She warns them of the imminent danger that lurks ahead, but the guides urge the group along, heedless of the warning.
Spectacular special effects are displayed in scenes from "Stigmata" and "The Blair Witch Project" and other popular horror movies. The setting within the damp gun batteries merely adds to the chilling scenery.
Once the tour is through, Fort Howard and the 150 volunteers prove themselves to be a strong community and creative entertainers. The Dungeons are well worth the massive effort instilled in them.
The Haunted Dungeons at Fort Howard Park are open Oct. 21-24 and Oct. 28-30 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Arrive early, the park usually reaches capacity by 7 p.m. Take Exit 42 off 695 and follow Route 20 South to Fort Howard Park. $6; $4 children 12 and under. Call 410-887-7529.
"Bedlam in the 'Boro." Haunted hay rides Oct. 21-23 and 28-30 from the Lineboro Volunteer Fire Department, 4224 Main St., Lineboro. Hours are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. $7; $3 ages 8 and under. Call 410-239-4467.
Bel Air costume parade. 11th annual costume parade and contest, Oct. 30, 11 a.m., registration begins at 10: 30 a.m., the Festival at Bel Air. Free. Call 410-893-1700.
Canal Town ghost walk. Progressive mystery and ghostly storytelling, Oct. 22-23, 6 p.m.-9: 30 p.m., South Chesapeake City. $7; $6 in advance; $5 under 12; $4 in advance; free under 3. Call 410-885-2025.
Candy carnival. Halloween games and candy, Oct. 27, 3: 30 p.m.-4: 30 p.m., Mora Crossman Recreation Center, 701 S. Rappolla St. Free. Call 410-396-9222.
Fall family fun day. Pumpkins, nature hikes, hayrides and a costume contest, Oct. 31, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Mount Aventine, off Route 210. Free. Call 301-743-7613. "Fright Fest." Haunted train rides, trick-or-treating, costume contests, Halloween stories and more, through October at Six Flags America, 13710 Central Ave., Largo. Open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October and nightly Oct. 21-31. Hours are 4 p.m.-10 p.m. weekdays and noon-10 p.m. weekends. "Fright Fest" is included in park admission: $31.99; $15.99 children. Call 301-249-1500.
Gerstung's Halloween kids night out. Rock climbing, trampolines, art projects, haunted cave and costume parade, Oct. 23, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Gerstung, 1400 Coppermine Terrace. $40; $30 per sibling. Call 410-337-7781.
Ghosts of the Patapsco Female Institute. Ghost tour of the once-famous girls' school, Oct. 22-23 and 29-30; 6: 30 p.m.-8: 30 p.m., Mount Ida, 3691 Sarah's Lane, Ellicott City. $4. Call 410-465-8500.
Halloween at Cider Mill Farm. Costume contest, pumpkin patch, scarecrow-making, more, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31 at Cider Mill Farm, 5012 Landing Road, Elkridge. Call 410-788-9595.
Halloween concert. Scary music from the BSO for children 3 and up, Oct. 30, 2 p.m., Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. $15; $20 box seats. Call 410-783-8000.
Halloween concert. The Preparatory Young Person's String Program performs at 2 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Peabody Institute, Friedberg Concert Hall, 1 E. Mount Vernon Place. Free. Call 410-659-8124.
Halloween costume contest. Costumes will be judged for prettiest, scariest and most original; open to center participants only, Oct. 29, 3 p.m.-4 p.m., Mora Crossman Recreation Center, 701 S. Rappolla St. Free. Call 410-396-9222.
Halloween costume party. For participants in the Youth Discovery After School Program only, games, prizes and more, Oct. 29, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., Leith Walk Recreation Center, 1235 Sherwood Ave. Free. Call 410-396-6681.
Halloween fun and games day. Games, relays, prizes, food, costume parade, more, Oct. 29, 3: 30 p.m.-6 p.m., Barclay Recreation Center, 300 E. 29th St. $2. Call 410-396-6073.
Halloween dance. Dance and song contests for children ages 7-14, Oct. 29, 7 p.m.-9: 30 p.m., Ella Bailey Recreation Center, 100 E. Heath St. $2. Call 410-396-0755.
Halloween at the Fire Museum. Fire safety goodie bags, junior fire fighter membership for kids, more, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 30 at Fire Museum of Maryland, 1301 York Road in Lutherville. Call 410-321-7500.
Halloween fun. Costume contest, games, food, Oct. 29, 4 p.m.-5: 30 p.m., Mount Royal Recreation Center, 120 W. Mosher St. Free. Open to center participants only. Call 410-396-0374.
Halloween fun party. Costume contests, games and more, Oct. 29, 4 p.m., South Baltimore Recreation Center, 106 E. Cross St. Admission is one canned good. Call 410-727-4526.
Halloween Kinderkonzert. Free classical music performance, audience participation, Oct. 30, 11 a.m., Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Severna Park. Free. Call 410-263-2664.
Halloween parade. Free candy for costumed children beginning at 5 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Shops at Kenilworth, Kenilworth Drive. Call 410-321-1909.
Halloween party. Games, contests, food, more, Oct. 29, 4 p.m., C. C. Jackson Recreation Center, 4910 Park Heights Ave. Free. Call 410-396-0949.
Halloween party. Costumes, games and refreshments for children ages 5-13, Oct. 29, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Cecil Kirk Recreation Center, 909 E. 22nd St. $2. Call 410-396-6750.
Halloween party. Dancing, prizes and refreshments, Oct. 29, 7 p.m.-10 p.m., Parkview Recreation Center, 2610 Francis St. $2. Call 410-396-0084.
Halloween party. Games, costume parade and contest, Oct. 31, 3 p.m.-5 p.m., Jerusalem Lutheran Church, 717 Wheeler School Road, Whiteford. Call 410-452-8774.
Halloween party. Games and holiday treats for children ages 5-12, Oct. 29, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., Bentalou Recreation Center, 222 N. Bentalou St. Call 410-396-0105.
Halloween party. Games, prizes and a costume contest, Oct. 29, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., Patapsco Recreation Center, 844 Roundview Road. Free. Call 410-396-1839.
Halloween party. Coloring contest, games and costume contest, Oct. 29, 2: 30 p.m.-4 p.m., Violetville Recreation Center, 3450 Violetville Lane. $2 with membership card. Call 410-396-0175.
Halloween party. Costume parade, games and more, Oct. 29, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., James D. Gross Recreation Center, 4600 Lanier Ave. $1. Call 410-396-0755.
Halloween party and parade. Costume contest, more, Oct. 31, 2 p.m.-4 p.m., Gardenville Recreation Center, 4517 Hazelwood Ave. Free. Call 410-543-3444.
Halloween at the Poe House. Edgar Allan Poe impersonator David Keltz portrays the ghost of Poe in performances of "The Tell Tale Heart," at 12: 30 p.m., 1: 15 p.m., 2: 15 p.m. and 3: 15 p.m. Oct. 23-24 and 30-31 at the Poe House, 203 N. Amity St. $4; $3 ages 12 and under. Call 410-396-7932.
Halloween skating party. Roller-skating, games and refreshments, open to center participants only, Oct. 29, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Mora Crossman Recreation Center, 701 S. Rappolla St. Free. Call 410-396-9222.
Halloween sock hop and splash party. Dance contests and swimming. Participants must wear costumes or masks, Oct. 29, 6: 30 p.m.-9 p.m., Chick Webb Memorial Recreation Center, 623 N. Eden St. $2. Call 410-396-7593.
Halloween tea. Tea, treats, autumn leaves and a tour of the Belair Mansion, Oct. 30, 4 p.m., Belair Mansion, 12207 Tulip Grove Drive, Bowie. Call 301-809-3089. "Hallowscream" trips. Various trips to Six Flags America in Largo; admission to each is $15:
Oct. 22, 6 p.m., Lakeland Recreation Center, 2921 Stranden Road. Call 410-396-0091.
Oct. 27, 4: 30 p.m.-11 p.m., Chick Webb Memorial Recreation Center, 623 N. Eden St. Call 410-396-7593.
Oct. 27, 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Samuel F. B. Morse, Recreation Center, 424 S. Pulaski St. Call 410-396-3717.
Oct. 28, 4 p.m.-9 p.m., Easterwood Recreation Center, 1530 Bentalou St. Call 410-396-0655.
Oct. 29, 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Woodhome Recreation Center, 7310 Moyer Ave. Call 410-396-6703.
Oct. 29, 4 p.m.-10 p.m., Furley Recreation Center, 4633 Furley Ave. Call 410-396-9329.
Harvest festival. Family-oriented Halloween games and goodie bags, Oct. 29, 3 p.m.-5 p.m., Morrell Park Recreation Center, 2601 Tolley St. $1. Call 410-396-5825.
Haunted armory. Tours Oct. 22 and 23, 7 p.m.-10 p.m., at 422 Montgomery St. in Laurel. Not recommended for small children. $5. Call 301-725-7800.
Haunted barn. Open Oct. 21-23 and 27-31 off Route 140 in Taneytown. Doors open at 7: 30 p.m.; 7 p.m. Halloween night. Presented by the Taneytown Jaycees. $6. Call 410-756-4575.
Haunted barn and hayride. Open 7 p.m.-10 p.m., Oct. 22-24 and 29-31at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, Route 178 in Crownsville. $8; free for ages 6 and under. Call 410-923-3400.
Haunted concert. Hear "The Tell Tale Heart" set to Verdi's "Requiem" performed by the Bach Society chorus, Oct. 24, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Westminster Hall and Burial Ground, at the corner of Greene and Fayette streets. $15. Call 410-521-0209.
Haunted Dungeons at Fort Howard Park. Located off Route 20 South. Hours are 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Runs Oct. 21-24, 28-30. $6; $4 ages 12 and under. Call 410-887-7529. "Haunted Graveyard ... of Charlesmont." Open through Nov. 2 at 3413 Wallford Drive, Dundalk. Runs from dusk until 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from dusk until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Free. Canned food donations requested. Call 410-282-3635.
Haunted hay rides. The haunted rides run Oct. 28-30 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Brave Venture Farm, 1925 Strawberry Drive, Finksburg. $5; $2 ages 6 and under. Call 410-795-0695.
Haunted house. Safe haunted house and ghoulish fun, Oct. 22-23, 6 p.m.-8: 30 p.m., Cecil Kirk Recreation Center, 909 E. 22nd St. $1. Call 410-396-6750.
Haunted house and dance. Enjoy tricks and treats, Oct. 29, 6: 30 p.m., Curtis Bay Recreation Center, 4416 Filbert St. $2. Call 410-396-1811.
Hauntings of Ellicott Mills. Ghost stories and ghost hunters, through November, Saturday nights, Ellicott City. $7; $5 children and seniors. Call 410-313-1900.
Historical Halloween traditions. Trick-or-treat at "Pumpkin Pastimes: An Old-Fashioned Harvest Festival," Oct. 30, 1 p.m.-4 p.m., Maryland Historical Society, 201 West Monument St. $5; $4 members of the MHS. Call 410-685-3750 Ext. 372.
Intergenerational Fun Festival. Costume contest and parade, games, treats and door prizes, Oct. 31, 2 p.m.-4 p.m., Pikesville Senior Center, 1301 Reisterstown Road. Free. Call 410-887-1245.
Jason's Woods. Haunted hayrides, horror shows, $2,500 costume contest, weekends through Oct. 31, Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. and Sundays, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., costume contest Oct. 24, 2 p.m., 99 Stehman Road, Lancaster, Pa. $7-$10. Call 717-872-5768.
Kim's Krypt. Haunted house and adventure, through Oct. 31, 7 p.m.-10: 30 p.m., 1202 Berkwood Road, Rosedale. $4. Call 410-391-7726.
Mall trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treat at the Owings Mills Mall, Oct. 31, 4 p.m., Owings Mills, 10300 Mill Run Circle. Call 410-363-7000 Ext. 7047.
Markoff's Haunted Forest. Open Oct. 21-23 and 25-31 at Martinsburg Road between Poolesville and Dickinson. Open from dusk until 9 p.m. weeknights and dusk until 10: 30 p.m. weekends. Prices from $1 to $15. Call 301-216-1248.
Ode To Halloween. The University of Maryland School of Law sponsors this music recital. Bring your own lunch, Oct. 21, 12 p.m., Westminster Hall, Fayette and Greene streets. Free. Call 410-706-2072.
Poe's last meal. Celebrate the 150th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death with historic food and ghost stories, Oct. 30, noon-4 p.m., The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, 844 East Pratt St. $5; $4 seniors; $3 children. Call 410-837-1793.
Pumpkin Junction. Children ages 4-11 choose pumpkins to decorate, Oct. 30-31, noon-4 p.m., Baltimore Streetcar Museum, 1901 Falls Road. $5; $2.50 ages 4-11, 65 and over. Call 410-547-0264.
Roller-skating Halloween party. Games, roller-skating and a costume contest, Oct. 29, 7 p.m.-9: 15 p.m., Roosevelt Recreation Center, 1221 W. 36th St. $3. Call 410-396-9329.
Safe Halloween party. Costume contest, games, candy and Bibelot gift certificates for children up to 17, Oct. 30, 2 p.m.-5 p.m., Bibelot, 2400 Boston St., Canton. Call 410-276-1162.
Scarecrow-making. Build scarecrows from hay and old clothes, Oct. 28, 4 p.m., Carroll F. Cook Recreation Center, 5061 E. Eager St. Free. Open to center participants only. Call 410-396-9089.
Silver Scream. Campy horror show from JamO Alternutive Theatre, not suitable for children under 13, Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 5-6, 8 p.m., St. John's United Methodist Church, St. Paul and 27th streets. $12; $13 "bloodline seats". Call 1-800-318-9707.
Spirit Theatre. Witness a turn-of-the-century-style seance, Oct. 29-31, Friday and Sunday, 7: 30 p.m. and 9: 30 p.m. and Saturday, 9: 30 and midnight, Ellicott Square, 8167 Main Street, Historic Ellicott City. $30. Call 1-800-235-8087.
Trail of Terror. Hay rides run Oct. 21-24 and 28-30. Rides begin at dusk with the last ride departing at 11: 45 p.m., from Padonia Park Club, 12006 Jenifer Road, Cockeysville. Tickets go on sale at 7 p.m. each night. $9; $7 ages 8 and under. Call 410-252-2046.
Trails of Terror. Runs Oct. 22-23 and 29-30 at Severn Danza Park, Route 170 and Donaldson Avenue in Severn. Hours are 7 p.m.-11 p.m., except 7 p.m.-midnight Oct. 30. $6. Call 410-551-7843.
Trick-or-treating. Participating stores at the Cranberry Mall, off Route 140 in Westminster, will be offering free candy to children from 7 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. Oct. 30. Call 410-876-8870.
Trick-or-treating. Free goodies from White Marsh Mall merchants at 1 p.m., costume contest at 4 p.m., more, Oct. 31 at 8200 Perry Hall Blvd. Call 410-931-7100.
Trick-or-treat at the Plaza. Trick-or-treat, get a photo with an alien or bat, Oct. 30, 1 p.m.-4 p.m., Reisterstown Road Plaza.
White Oak School haunted house. Games, food, plant sale, haunted house, more, Oct. 30, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., White Oak School, 8401 Leefield Road. Free. Call 410-887-5378.
YMCA fright night. Haunted hike, goblin golf, costume contests, more, Oct. 22-23, 7 p.m.-10 p.m., White Marsh/Fullerton YMCA, 7677 Lillian Holt Drive. $5; $15 families. Call 410-661-5600.
Zoo BOOO! Trick-or-treating, games and a costume contest, Oct. 23-24 and 30-31, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., the Baltimore Zoo, Druid Hill Park. $9; $5.50 children and seniors; ages under 2 free. Call 410-366-LION.