“You Can’t Escape Your Nightmares” reads the headline on the Idyllwild Ghost Town’s website, warning any who attend Kat Wilson’s 11th iteration of her month-long fright and fear festival that they will not leave unaffected. Rather, after walking through her haunted house of the unforgiving and undead, visitors may leave injected with recurring nightmare images of ghosts, gore, goblins and blood.
And, of course, it’s all for a good cause. Wilson, who applies for all the grants and sponsorships that fund the animatronic and live (or dead) actor walk-through spectacle, confirmed that once again, all net proceeds go to the Idyllwild School PTA to fund Discovery Education programs for Idyllwild School. PTA President Wendy Read said Wilson’s ghost town has raised more than $20,000 during the seven years net profits have come to the PTA. More than 100 actors and crew stage the phantasmagorical production each night.
Although an injury in an inflatable bounce house at the Idyllwild Community Center site during the ghost town run (an attraction sponsored, said Wilson, by the ICC) temporally threatened continued operation of Idyllwild Ghost Town, Wilson noted that a finding that there was no negligence and meetings with the district school board and Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer acted to green-light continued operation.
The Halloween inaugural event begins at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3 at the ghost town maze behind the Rustic Theatre and runs each Friday and Saturday through Saturday, Nov. 1. It is usually open until 9 p.m., but Wilson said that if crowds are large it may stay open later. The event has grown in popularity each year, pulling attendees from all over California. Adult tickets are $7, and for children under 13 they are $5 and can be bought on the website.
And for the second year, Wilson’s fright festival concludes with a zombie parade and zombie run on Saturday, Nov. 1. Starting at 1 p.m. is a “Zombie Call,” a parade of grotesques down North Circle, the same zombies that will later, during the Zombie Run, seek to waylay and cannibalize runner participants.
Participant runners will attempt to complete a mile obstacle course circling the ICC site while pursued by ravenous zombies. Each runner will wear three “health” flags, one on each hip and one behind, which zombies, in cold and deathless pursuit, will try to grab. Those who lose all flags are completely infected and although not long for this world, are still allowed to complete the run — if they can. The runner or runners who complete the course with flags intact will win a trophy and prize at a ceremony near Jo’An’s Restaurant in the town square.
Cost for runner registration is $25 and for zombies is $20 with professional makeup artist application or $10 with own makeup. (Register at idyllwildzombierun.com.)
Wilson said the run has garnered widespread media attention and, as a result, registrants are planning to come from as far away as the East Coast.