The Haunted HEEP (Hillside Environmental Education Park) event took place on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 25, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on the red trail behind the Innovation Partnership Building. It featured many creepy and thrilling scenes set up throughout the 1.1 mile trail.
Hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly to put this event together, as they had to set up the trail with lights and decor as well as conduct a general cleanup of the trail. The actors along the trail were all incredibly committed, with some laying on the ground of the woods in impressive costumes. There were multiple complicated scenes including a magic circle, a priest performing an exorcism on a screaming girl and a very realistic Georgie from “IT.”
Along with that, there were many volunteers hiding behind trees and in the dark to jump out and scare participants. Many would go as far as to run after the group, or stay quiet enough to scare the people in the back who may have missed the original jump scare as the groups consisted of about 10 people. Each group was given two red flashlights to allow for some visibility in the otherwise dark woods. The trail itself was marked with green glow sticks so as to prevent students from getting lost. There were hundreds of students in attendance, ready to experience the creepiness of UConn’s trails at night.
The beginning of the trail was ominous as the groups followed a red hooded person walking slowly ahead of them and singing quietly. From there the group navigated the dark trail, as volunteers in a variety of costumes jumped out and scared them, or stood creepily still. The trail took about 35 minutes to complete and from there you could call it a night or depending on when you got out, get in line and go for round two. Some people mentioned they were going for their third time, showing how enjoyable this event was.
There were many volunteers — outside of just the actors in the woods scaring people — who worked hard to put this event together. Jackie Flaherty, a third-semester marketing and urban community studies major and sustainability intern said, “I think it’s a great event because it shows students on campus about the awesome trails we have and it also makes it really fun with all the spookiness.” Her remarks sum up this event perfectly, students were able to learn about and access the trails UConn has, while having Halloween-themed fun. Flaherty — who also went through the trail — said,”I would definitely go again. I had a really great time, I love hiking and scary stuff, so it was a combination of my two favorite things.”
Amanda Stowe, a third-semester environmental science major said, “We also have a lot of opportunities for trail maintenance clean up so if students want to join with that we always have that, usually one in fall and one in the spring.” If any students are interested in getting involved with the trails after experiencing first-hand how fun they are, there are many opportunities to do so. Considering the success of the event this year, as well as the previous three years, I would keep an eye out for the same event next fall, whether you want to volunteer or get scared.