Screem Fest!

Me and Jaiden at Canobie Lake Park

This year, I think we celebrated Halloween to its full potential. Not only are the girls getting old enough to really know what’s going on and appreciate trick-or-treating (well, except for Keira, who is three months old), we took Jaiden to Screem Fest at Canobie Lake Park.

The last time I went to Halloween haunted houses was when I was pregnant with Jaiden and my friends and I went to Spooky World. And I’ll have to say, I’ve missed this Halloween tradition.

I like walking through narrow, dark mazes decorated with spiderwebs, graves and the occasional petrified skeleton. I like shuffling through the spooky halls huddled together with (or, if you’re there with my friend Karylis, practically getting your arm ripped off by) whoever you’re with, anticipating when the next ghoul or monster or masked guy with a chainsaw will jump out from the darkness at you.

It’s fun. And it really makes you feel like you’ve officially gotten into the Halloween spirit.

Greg at Screem Fest

So when my husband’s place of work kindly offered the management free tickets to Screem Fest, I was excited. Of course, we had to get a babysitter for the occasion, and it would be Keira’s first big nighttime babysit. Enter, my parents.

My parents, who are pretty much our only babysitters, agreed to the daunting task of babysitting the three girls who were too young for Halloween scariness and night-time amusement parks, and (drum roll, please…) putting baby Keira to bed away from home for the first time. I knew my mom could handle it, though. I can always trust her to be patient and caring, even if the baby is crying because she’s not at home with mommy at night.

So my mom would possibly sacrifice getting enough sleep so we could use our free tickets. Because who could pass up free tickets when they usually cost $35 a piece??

Of course, we did bring Jaiden, because at eight-years-old, he seemed the perfect age to have a blast.

While I was most looking forward to the haunted houses, much of Screem Fest consisted of the usual amusement park and its rides — just at night, with scary decorations and zombies wandering around. So I was a bit disappointed when the evening started with going on rides.

This made me realize that I must be getting old and boring.

Ferris wheel

But at the risk of sounding old and boring, I guess I’m just not as into rides as I was as a kid. Being spun in a circle until I feel nauseous is not exactly my cup of tea, and roller coasters are the worst. Those ancient wooden ones just jolt you all over the place. And don’t even get me started on the ones that spin upside down, where your head is bouncing back and forth the whole time between the constraint bars that squish you into your seat.

Plus, I’m that person who sits there hoping the ride won’t malfunction and send us flying across the park. But I’m on the ride anyway, trusting that a higher power is in control of my well-being rather than a mechanical ride.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love log rides, gondolas, flying swings, ferris wheels, and especially water slides (at those places that have a water park). But being squashed, jolted, bonked or made to feel like tossing my cookies is not my definition of fun.


I know, I’m an amusement park buzz kill. Sorry.

But back to Screem Fest.

The lines to get on the rides were long, so we had to wait 10 to 15 minutes for each one. I did get spun around some, but I survived.

Finally, we made our way towards the haunted houses. But there was just one problem. It turned out that Jaiden didn’t want to go in the haunted houses. The zombies and other costumed/makeup-covered Halloween scaries really frightened him.



He couldn’t have mentioned this before we got there??

Although, at eight years old, he is still young, I didn’t expect him to be this scared! With his favorite show being Dragon Ball Z Kai (which I constantly tell him is the worst kids’ show ever created. The plot of every episode consists of the anime-like characters fighting and then sprawling out on the ground injured after meeting a foe more powerful than them. Yes, this happens in EVERY episode), and his wanting to see PG-13 superhero movies (which he is only allowed to see after an adult has first deemed them acceptable), I thought he had grown into a tough little boy. So I thought he would be braver when it came to walking by people in monster costumes.

At one point, I jokingly gave him a little shove in the direction of a wretched-looking zombie-waitress-on-roller-skates mannequin (near one of the food stands) and poor Jaiden almost burst into tears!  I couldn’t believe he took it so seriously!

It made me realize that beneath his tough “I like to be wild with my friends” and “I think gross things are funny” exterior, he is still my sweet little baby boy. Awww! (Sorry, Jaiden, if this post embarrasses you someday.)

Roller-skating-waitress-zombie mannequin and ... random kid who jumped into the picture. I think this is hilarious because the kid's features actually resemble the zombie lady's. In fact, that feature on Facebook that groups people's faces for tagging after you upload photos identified them as the same person.

After that, I felt bad for scaring him and held on to him as we walked through the park. But I was still determined to go into a haunted house, since that was why I had wanted to come in the first place.

When we got to the haunted house area, a parade of ghouls and monsters drove by, including a hearse, the “ghost busters” car and a scary clown car.

Who you gonna call?

“I never knew why clowns could be scary, but now I know why!” said Jaiden of the yellow-eyed, sharp-teethed clowns.

People dressed as zombies glared at bystanders as the procession passed, trying to scare us. Some even got right in people’s faces. A few monsters chased some teenagers, who were screaming and running away. But I knew from past experience that the monsters aren’t allowed to touch people, so it’s all in good fun.

When we found the haunted houses, I began to realize it didn’t look good. It looked like there was one main spooky house and the line for it wound back and forth so many times it looked like it would be a three-hour wait.

Scary clowns

Still, I insisted on finding the end of the line. So we walked. And walked.  And walked.

The end of the line was about three blocks away.  It became obvious that it wasn’t going to happen. I wondered if the people at the end of the line would even make it to the haunted house before the park closed at 11.

Past that line, there was another smaller haunted house with a shorter line. It would have to suffice.  So we got in line for that one, despite Jaiden’s hesitation.

“Don’t worry, the monsters aren’t allowed to touch you,” I told him.  I told him to hang on to me so it wouldn’t be as scary.

Confrontational zombie

At the entrance, I was handed a glow stick before stepping in to the dark, with Jaiden clinging to my waist. Only every fifth person got a glow stick so it would be sufficiently dark and scary.

Actually, dark is an understatement. It was pitch black. I couldn’t see a thing. All I could see was the green glow of the glow stick, desperately held out in front of me by one extended arm with which I attempted to shine some light on my surroundings. It wasn’t working.

With my other arm, I felt around blindly in front of us, groping strips of cloth that hung in the pathway and trying to follow the winding hall without crashing into a wall.

This was not the haunted house experience I remembered. Usually, it’s dark but you can kind of see your spooky surroundings, which is half the fun. This, on the other hand, was like groping your way through complete blackness.

The devil chillin' with some kids on a bench.

Then, all of a sudden, a white mask popped out in front of me. I shrieked. Sorry, it startled me! I had now discovered the dynamic of this haunted house: complete, pitch blackness with something jumping out at you once in awhile.  And I was the easiest victim for whatever lurked in the darkness since I was holding the glow stick. Great.

Me and Jaiden on a ride

Surprisingly, Jaiden didn’t make a sound. He just clung to me as we made our way through the dark passage as quickly as I could without crashing into a wall. I screamed a few more times — each time a white mask or a green swamp creature (I think, I couldn’t really see that well) thrust its head out in front of my glow stick.

Not a noise could be heard from my husband walking behind us either, who wasn’t as much of a target because he wasn’t holding a glow stick. Later, he told me that he had also seen people standing on rafters above us. But since I was holding the glow stick, I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing anything but its



green, shining light and whatever popped out directly in front of it.

Once we found our way out of the maze, I discovered why Jaiden hadn’t screamed. He had been shuffling along holding on to me with his eyes shut the whole time, so he wouldn’t see anything. The only time he got scared was when I screamed (and probably jumped) when something startled me, he said.  Good choice, Jaiden.

So, that was fun. It wasn’t the haunted house experience I had anticipated, but it was still fun.

After leaving the park, we stopped at a 24-hour iHop in the area. Because who can resist a midnight omelet (especially on the rare occasion that you have nighttime babysitting)??

Midnight omelet



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