Many nervous laughs and anxious glances were exchanged between people waiting in line to attend the third annual Fright Nights at Jacobson Park on an early October evening.
First-time attendees never know what to expect from the haunted attraction, one of several in Lexington.
Jackie Collins went to Fright Nights for his first time this year with three of his co-workers from the Family Medical Center in Manchester.
"I expect lots of scaring," he said.
Missy Baird, also a first-time Fright Nights attendee, brought five kids ages 8 to 12 with her. While in line waiting to enter a trail, Baird said, "I'm expecting people to jump out everywhere and lots of kids screaming."
Fright Nights at Jacobson Park makes people scream through three mazelike trails, 13 Doors, Entrapment and The Dark Forest. (Fright Nights also has a second location on Haley Road, called Fright Nights at the Farm, that focuses on haunted hayrides.)
There is a general agreement that 13 Doors is the scariest.
"I went on 13 Doors last year, too," said Olivia Holland, 14. "This year, it scared me more than last year because there was a person in a SpongeBob costume with a chain saw at the end of the trail."
Chris Swartz, who described himself as a frequent flier when it comes to haunted trails, said nothing really scares him, but if he had to choose the scariest trail of the three, it would be 13 Doors.
The unlucky-number trail is a maze through trailers. As the name hints, there are 13 doors that people have to go through to exit the maze. One of the rooms includes a "diseased" girl lying in a bed, coughing and crying for help. The eerie room has doorways at all four corners of the bed. Unless a group is incredibly lucky, it will encounter at least two dead-end doors — and the horrors behind them — before they find the one that leads to the next room.
Of the three, 13 Doors is the only trail at Fright Nights that is completely inside. Entrapment and The Dark Forest lead people through the trees at Jacobson Park for the most part.
Entrapment starts off by making people walk — or run, in many cases — past a monster holding a chain saw. After people pass that monster, they enter a chain-link-fence maze. The maze includes monsters in frighteningly realistic costumes who jump out when people are least expecting it. The majority of this trail is outside, but portions are in tiny sheds.
Entrapment might not make people scream as much as 13 Doors, but it is scary enough to make some turn away.
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School senior Chloe Robertson was paralyzed by fear that caused her to exit the trail after her first two steps into Entrapment.
"If more of the trail was hidden, and if you entered Entrapment with a monster that didn't have a chain saw, I would've lasted through the entire thing." Chloe said. "It was overwhelming."
The Dark Forest, which takes people through the dark woods of Jacobson Park, is arguably the second-scariest trail. The trail is dimly lit by hanging lanterns, and monsters jump out of the trees. Because this trail doesn't include enclosed spaces like the other two, monsters are able to pinpoint, follow and then "terrorize" the people who scream the loudest or show the most fear.
The "monsters" say they enjoy their job almost as much as people enjoy going to Fright Nights.
"I don't do it for the money. I do it to make people scream," said Randy Lindemen, who is working his first Fright Nights this year. "I enjoy the scaring, running and crying."
IF YOU GO
Fright Nights at Jacobson Park
What: Three haunted trails, 13 Doors, Entrapment and The Dark Forest
When: Through Nov. 2. Hours: 7:30-10 p.m. Thu., Sun.; 7:30-11:30 p.m. Fri., Sat.
Where: Jacobson Park, 4001 Athens-Boonesboro Rd.
Admission: $14 for one haunt, $20 for two, $24 for three. Fast passes to skip line: $20 for one haunt, $26 for two, $30 for three. Available at Lexingtonhauntedhouse.com.
Also: Fright Nights has a second location, Fright Nights at the Farm, that includes a haunted hayride and zombie paintball hayride. 3898 Haley Rd. $14-$37.
Alyssa Molden, a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, is interning at the Herald-Leader through Fayette County Public Schools' Experience Based Career Education program.