|Bob Galvin uses a chainsaw with its teeth removed to scare a thrill-seeker at the Halloween Woods attraction at Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling on Oct. 26. -Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Ben Hancock|
The night air is chilly, it’s pitch black and there's a guy lurking in the woods with a chainsaw. He's been there all night.
A cord rips, the engine fires and he's heading for a group of kids. Some of them fall to the ground and others scatter running out of the woods.
Screams dissipate into the air and after a few seconds the engine is cut and silence falls. All the kids have vanished.
Bob Galvin takes off his mask and begins to chuckle.
For the last three years, he has been scaring folks as part of the Halloween Woods attraction in Sterling at the running trails in the Algonkian Regional Park.
During his days he works at Eastern Mountain Sports, and he says he enjoys the chance to get away from his nine-to-five life in retail to "run around and yell in somebody’s face every once in a while."
Galvin started scaring after some friends in the drama department at Potomac Falls High School coaxed him into joining them at Halloween Woods.
He came because it naturally piqued his theatrical interest and "seemed like a good seasonal job."
Every year Halloween Woods is set up as a haunted forest attraction with various shacks and outdoor scenes to scare and startle thrill-seekers.
The journey through the woods begins simply, with a flash light and a path.
Along the way patrons walk through a rendering of the movie "The Ring," a butcher's shack and a giant spider descending onto their head.
Galvin's station is near the exit at the end of the trail. After walking for more than 25 minutes through the woods people are asked to drop their flashlights in a 5-gallon orange Home Depot bucket and continue into a building styled to look like a demented clown's mouth.
Once inside, a fog fills a room and laser lights paint the ceiling. They then must slip through a hallway so narrow only one person could fit through.
As people spill out of the blackness at the end of the tunnel Galvin meets them with a chainsaw (the teeth are removed, of course). He scares them through the end of the foot path and right back to where they started.
Every few minutes there is a lull in the action because a slow reticent group will leave gaps of downtime.
Between sips of Nos energy drink, Galvin explains the red gas cans sitting next to him.
"The chainsaw will give out right in the middle of a scare," he says.
A few minutes later, halfway through one of his scares, the chainsaw lets out a sigh and sputters to a halt. Instead of scaring, the chainsaw illicits a laugh.
Moments before, Galvin had gone to the front of the attraction where the line formed to get into the woods.
There he pulled double duty scaring people before they even went into the woods.
While working the front Galvin will sometimes choose a person to target when they come through the end of the trail where he sits with his chainsaw.
Throughout the night he uses different tactics to scare, like limping, which is more of a stumble than a walk. He also screams at people, but sometimes remains completely silent.
The key he says is to switch up people's expectations, so they can't anticipate what will come next.
His explanation of what he does is simple. “I wear a creepy mask and follow people around and get in their face and yell at them, that's pretty much it.”
It might be the simplicity of the idea that people come for, though Galvin has a different explanation.
He says there are people who laugh at the scarers, some who are genuinely scared, some who come because their friends make them and some who want to look tough in front of their friends "but they all pay to be here, so who knows," he says.
He's just there to scare.
|Bob Galvin scares a patron heading for the exit with his chainsaw at the Halloween Woods attraction at Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling on Oct. 26.-Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Ben Hancock|
|Bob Galvin moves the tarp that shades the end of one of the shacks at the Halloween Woods attraction at Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling on Oct. 26.-Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Ben Hancock|
Be the first to post a comment!