EAGLE LAKE, Maine — When he was a little boy on Halloween, Robert St. Germain was not the one going door-to-door looking for candy. He was the one hiding behind trees and leaping out to scare the other trick-or-treaters.
Decades later, the Eagle Lake volunteer fireman taps into that inner child every year around this time as he creates the annual Eagle Lake Haunted Forest. This year’s event will run 7-11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, weather permitting, behind the town office on Devoe Brook Road.
Admission is $10 for people 13 and over and $5 for 12 and younger.
“It keeps getting better each year,” St. Germain said Wednesday morning, taking a break from setting up the dozens of props, lights and special effects scattered along the 2,500-foot walk in the town’s municipal forest. “Some things we keep from year to year, and we can the ones that don’t work so well.”
The primary goal of the haunted forest is to raise funds for the Eagle Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
Right behind that is St. Germain’s goal to scare the pants off people.
“I’ve seen grown men scream like little girls,” he said with a grin. “One young lady told us after she came out that she had actually peed her pants.”
For that reason, St. Germain cautions parents about bringing young children to the haunted forest.
“It’s really, really intense,” he said. “This year it’s really up in your face.”
This year, according to St. Germain, is all about the zombies, as he and his crew take a cue from the popular television series “The Walking Dead.”
Also on tap are a variety of characters from top horror movies, props supplied by the Fort Kent Historical Society — including an old dentist chair — and, according to St. Germain, “a lot of blood, gore and noise.”
This year St. Germain said there will be lots of special effects including fog, lighting, sound and even a chain saw or two.
Participants are allowed through the haunted forest in groups of eight or 10, St. Germain said, holding onto a rope as a volunteer leads them through the forest’s dark paths.
“It starts as soon as they step in,” he said. “And they never really get a break until it’s done.”
It takes about 25 minutes to complete the circuit and St. Germain said his volunteers rely on distractions, diversions and the element of surprise to achieve maximum shock value.
Adding to the fear factor, Presque Isle tattoo artist Jesse Pinette of Precision Tattoo will be on hand this year to apply makeup and paint to the forest’s characters.
According to St. Germain, it takes about 50 volunteers to pull off the haunted forest and this year he has them coming from Eagle Lake, Fort Kent and Madawaska.
“We can always use more,” he said.
St. Germain said there are three types of people who come through the forest — those who get a good scare and love it, those who just laugh off their fears, and the few who are not scared at all.
As of midweek, the weather forecast called for a clear — if a bit cold — Friday night, but St. Germain said there is a chance of freezing rain Saturday that could force a cancellation of the second night. He suggested people check the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/628772457136585/?ref=br_tf for updates.
“I looked at the cold temperature called for Friday night and put up a post that people’s breath will be the last thing they see before they are scared to death,” he said. “People keep writing back, ‘Dude, what’s wrong with you?’”