For the last two years, my wife and I have transformed ourselves into Evil Creatures and have been haunting the Oscar Scherer Haunted Trail. The Oscar Scherer State Park Haunted Trail is basically a haunted house in the woods. The first year we volunteered we were featured on the cover of the Venice Gondolier Sun Newspaper. We do these events because we can find no better way to express our creativity while giving back to our community at the same time. The Haunted trail at Oscar Scherer helps to fund both the Oscar Scherer State Park and the Osprey & Nokomis Chamber of commerce.
The event is presented by the Friends of Oscar Scherer in partnership with Nokomis Osprey Chamber of Commerce and the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department. It consists of two trails; one scary with a haunted house located at the end and the other "not so scary" with trick or treating, games, food trucks a stage and a DJ. It's no surprise to me that the park sells out for the weekend surrounding the event a solid year in advance.
I started training to be the Burlap Beast about 6 months before the event. I didn’t even know what I wanted to be, I just knew I wanted to be BIG! I bought a set of used drywall stilts and started taking them to the park to practice about once a week. I got to where I could walk, stalk, creep, run and even chase people safely while wearing stilts. I even practiced falling down in case the worst should happen. As my agility improved in stilts, my costume and character started to come together. I found an off the shelf mask, added rope for hair and cut bigger eye holes. I wrapped my shoulder pads, body and stilts in alternating colors of burlap.
We knew the monster would never be scary without arms. So with some advice from fellow scare actor ,Kris Felberg, I built a basic wire frame out of wire hangers and then fleshed out the arms with pool noodles shaped to a crude likeness. Then my wife, Jennifer Priest, used papermache over the pool noodles and the results were awesome.
The story behind my monster is that he was a summoned pet creature for my wife who dressed as a demon. We had a little "bit" where I would get off my leash and start chasing children, it was great! The trail was an absolute success and we helped the park earn some serious cash. The funniest thing about being a chained monster is that about 10% of tiny girls age 4-8 had absolutely no fear of me and just wanted to set me free or protect me from the demon!!! It was actually the most adorable thing, but word to the wise, stilts are very difficult to operate with a child attached to each ankle.