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Hike not for faint of heart

Kids come screaming to Stough Canyon as nature center gets a spooky makeover for Halloween season.

October 24, 2007|By Rachel Kane

Duncan Blanchard took one look at a demented, drooling clown figure standing 10 feet tall in the darkness near the Stough Canyon Nature Center’s entrance and decided he would not go in.

It was Terror Under the Big Top at this year’s Haunted Hike at the Stough Canyon Nature Center on Friday and Saturday.

Pasadena residents Karen Decano, her son Benjamin Bowen, 11, and his friend Duncan 10 came out on Friday night to see the nature center converted into a circus gone wrong.


People waited in the park below the nature center for their turn on a small bus that carried them up in groups of 30 or so.

About 80 volunteers came together over a few months to create the concepts and man the nature center for the Haunted Hike.

The bus was completely dark on the inside while it made its way up the hill to the nature center.

A volunteer sat in the seat behind the driver and played a recorded explanation of the “legend” behind the night’s circus theme.

“Think you’d like to run away to the circus, do you?” the voice on the recording said. “Well, think again!”

Duncan shivered and let out a frightened moan.

“It’ll be OK, Duncan,” Decano said.

When the bus reached the nature center at the top of the hill, the passengers were greeted by a ballerina with a pink parasol and a jolly female clown.

The ballerina guided the groups through a maze in the nature center of escaped lions, vampires, lunatics, spider men scrambling on the floors and a freak show.

People waited in the darkness for the bus to take them from the maze back down to the park area where there was a reptile show, refreshments and a smaller, less scary version of the maze for toddlers and their parents.

“It’s not really scary,” said Kara Griffith, 27, of Burbank. “It’s kind of a fun thing. It’s just a nice, really cute community thing.”

Duncan would beg to differ.

“Were there live lions?” he asked Decano and Benjamin when they came out.

“No, Duncan,” Decano said.

There were live reptiles in the park though.

“Check it out,” said Sarah Pacifici, 9, of Burbank. “I’m holding a snake.”

Sarah and her friend Clare Lebeda, 8, were biding their time with the reptile show until they could get into the nature center.

They didn’t go in the maze for younger children.

“I’m not going into the tent because I’m going to save all my screaming energy,” Clare said.

It was Clare’s first time on the Haunted Hike.

When their turn finally came to go up to the nature center, the girls ran full-tilt toward the bus and toward the Terror Under the Big Top.

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