By Kristin Zachary
Friday, November 1, 2013
Porch lights were aglow in the Bedford neighborhood Thursday night, but one house stood out from the rest.
Eleven years ago, Doug and Janice Barlowe began a haunted maze in their backyard, and the event continues to grow each year.
At 6:30 p.m., trick-or-treaters were lining up outside their Wyneston Road home, eager to make their way through an extensive backyard haunt full of creatures — fake and real.
Thousands of children hit the streets in Bedford and other Greenville neighborhoods on Halloween night to gather candy as East Carolina University students took to Dowdy-Ficken and thousands of partiers headed downtown in what is one of Greenville’s most popular holidays.
For hundreds of young witches, goblins and princesses, the Barlowe’s house was just one stop among many, but it was a special one.
“Cowboy Doug’s Backyard Halloween Freak Show” took the Barlowes about a month to set up. The couple said they spent four or five hours each day this month preparing for the crowds.
“We’ve always liked Halloween,” Janice Barlowe said. “We just do it for the kids.”
About 30 costumed creatures, including clowns, skeletons and ghouls, walked through the maze to find a hiding spot.
The maze was built from more than $3,000 in dog kennel fencing covered by black plastic and filled with flickering lights, creepy music and kooky decorations. Visitors also traveled through outside areas known as “Spider Village,” “The Graveyard” and “Haunted Heads.”
Sounds of leaves crunching beneath the feet of children, teens and adults were drowned out by their shrieks and laughter.
“It’s very intense,” Janice Barlowe said. “Hopefully, this is going to be our best year.”
She estimated they spent $5,000 this year to put on the Halloween haunt but “there’s no telling” how much money has gone into the past 10 years.
“We add a few things every year,” she said, carrying the mask to her skeleton costume. “We just love it.”
The newest attraction was a casket set up in front of a preacher presiding over a funeral. The strobe light flickered as children crept by, stopping in front of the coffin and fleeing when a man flung open the lid.
A handful of miles away, down Evans Street and into the heart of Greenville, crowds began forming early for downtown festivities.
By 10 p.m., a couple thousand people already had taken to the streets to celebrate Halloween in a more adult atmosphere.
Sgt. Joe Friday of the Greenville Police Department said he estimated between 6,000 to 8,000 people would be out, a much larger crowd than last year’s. Rain last year kept many away, he said.
Friday said the downtown area, which was cordoned off in the blocks surrounding the intersection of Cotanche and Fifth Streets, was patrolled by 120 officers from Greenville, Bethel, Vidant, ECU, Ayden, Winterville, Farmville and other departments, as well as State Highway Patrol, Probation and Parole and the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.
At 10 p.m., only one person had been asked to leave due to drunkenness, officials said, and there were no other problems to report.
ECU students also flocked to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, where a celebration alternative to that offered downtown was held. At 10:30 p.m., more than 1,000 students and guests had entered the area underneath the bleachers to take part in laser tag, black light putt-putt, a costume contest and more, according to Nancy Mize, assistant vice chancellor of Campus Recreation and Wellness. She expected close to 3,000 would participate by the end of the night.
Senior Kendra McCurdy, 21, said the ECU event is a better alternative to downtown festivities.
“Downtown is OK, but, by the time you’re a senior, it’s not that special,” she said. “I’ve been coming to these every year. I’ve always enjoyed it.”
McCurdy said she had already seen 20 friends and liked the social aspects of the gathering.
“Downtown is full of strangers, and there’s some danger in that,” she said.
Officials in the downtown areas and at Dowdy-Ficklen said they expected to shut down at 2 a.m.
via The Daily Reflector.