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Scaring up a tour

Volunteers conjure up a great Hollywood haunt at the Stough Canyon Nature Center.

October 21, 2009|By Liana Aghajanian

Stough Canyon Nature Center is transforming from educational center into a “Haunted Adventure” for two nights of frightful, fun thrills that officials hope will leave guests screaming for more.

The scary tour is planned by the Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services Department on Friday and Saturday and pays homage to tinsel town with its “Haunted Hollywood” theme. The nature center’s docents are conjuring up the spooky ambience that features paparazzi, a re-creation of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and Hollywood Walk of Fame, zombies, mannequins and an eerie back story about a strange old couple who once owned the property.

Those who choose to brave the tour will park at Stough Park and be bused in groups of 15 using Burbank transportation vans to the pitch-black nature center where tour leaders will guide them through the journey.

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This community effort that brings together volunteers to produce a theme-based scare fest has been an annual event for about 12 years, said Carol S. Mercado, recreation program coordinator at the nature center.

“It’s pretty much fun, and it can be scary, and if you like that kind of thing, it’s great,” she said, adding that many residents think the “Haunted Adventure” is better than commercial events because the docents do a professional job putting it together.

Though most of the teenagers involved in creating the adventure this time around were barely toddlers at its inception, they said the invigorating atmosphere coupled with the chance to give back to the community keeps them coming back for more.

Vivian Kim, a junior at Burbank High School, has been volunteering for five years.

“I like helping out and being a part of something,” she said. “It’s always fun, and you get to meet new people.”

The appeal of creating an event for Burbank residents even extends to those who have long since graduated high school.

Diana Means has been bringing her daughter to the haunted adventure for around seven years and has been personally volunteering for three.

“I’m teaching her the importance of giving back,” said Means, who works in creative services for home video at Warner Bros. “The reason why Burbank is so wonderful is because of the community. I think it’s amazing how it comes together every single year.”


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