It starts with a coffin and four pallbearers. But this isn’t a funeral march to the grave. On the contrary, it’s a race to the finish line, and the coffin, inspected before the start, must be kept under complete control the entire time.
The event? Coffin races.
Ghostport, a Halloween festival hosted by the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, will hold its seventh annual coffin race Oct. 17. The idea began with Leslie Wombacher, executive director of the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, who discovered something she had never seen before hosted by a small Colorado town similar in size to Bucksport.
It’s called Manitou Springs, and its Emma Crawford Coffin Races draw more than 10,000 people each year, nearly doubling the town’s population.
“I called Manitou Springs’ chamber and introduced myself,” Wombacher said. “I said, ‘I’m from Maine, and I want to be like you.’”
The organizers of the race were happy to help and assisted Wombacher with putting together a set of rules for the race. Although the Bucksport coffin races have yet to draw as many people as Manitou Springs, Wombacher hopes to see more involvement in the event, especially because it’s part of a much larger festival offering a number of festivities, including a pumpkin catapult.
For $2, participants can launch a pumpkin straight into the water on the Bucksport Waterfront from a trebuchet, which volunteers load.
“We have a boat to pick up the pumpkins to reuse them if they don’t splat,” Wombacher said.
Usually more than 100 pumpkins, donated from area farms, are hurled into the river and retrieved every year during the festival.
In addition to these two unique events, Fright at the Fort next door will set off fireworks, and the festival will hold a chili cookoff and a “trunk or treat” for children, among many other activities.
“Every year, we’ve added a little something,” Wombacher said. “It’s getting out of hand, which I love.”
Halloween events, such as Ghostport, stand out among others. Catapulting pumpkins into a river definitely deviates from the vegetables’ traditional use. Perhaps most unique — and morbid — is the upcoming coffin races, but Bucksport isn’t the only town racing to the grave this October.
The Calais Downtown Revitalization Coalition will host its first casket race at 11 a.m. Oct. 24.
The rules are simple: Each team must make, build or obtain a casket at least 3 feet wide by 6 feet long. A living “stiff” or “ghost” is the rider, and they aren’t allowed to have any steering mechanism. They must depend on their loved ones to get them to the finish line.
The Calais Downtown Revitalization Coalition also will host a “Create Your Scarecrow” competition, during which time participants will secure a scarecrow frame to an assigned lamppost with zip ties.
From Fort Kent’s Historic Haunted Dube House at the top of Maine to Kittery’s haunted woods walk at the bottom, there isn’t a shortage of spooky events to attend. There are haunted corn mazes, houses, trails and hay rides — but haunted lighthouses are a bit harder to come by.
The coastal town of Bath will offer a unique take on haunted tours this year with its Haunted Lighthouse Cruise, the first event of its kind hosted by the Maine Maritime Museum. As marketing and communications manager Katie Meyers believes, it’s the only haunted lighthouse tour in Maine.
“We decided we’d try something different,” Meyers said. “It’s not just about ghost stories; it’s about the history. … Seguin [Island Light] itself has a long history.”
According to legend, a lighthouse keeper and his wife years ago inhabited the lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper’s wife played the piano incessantly, which drove him mad and led him to first destroy the piano and then murder her. There are rumors that piano music can still be heard floating from the lighthouse.
The cruise will offer attendees the chance to hear the history and legends surrounding seven of Maine’s lighthouses, including Doubling Point Light, the Kennebec Range Lights, Squirrel Point Light, Perkins Island Light, Pond Island Light, Seguin Island Light and Hendricks Head Light.
The cruises will run Monday, Oct., 19 and Friday, Oct. 23. Each trip can accommodate 70 people, so space is limited. To register, visit Maine Maritime Museum’s website.
Here are a few of the many Halloween events going on around the state:
BANGOR — UCP of Maine’s Pumpkins in the Park community Halloween party for children, noon-5 p.m., Oct. 25, at Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St. Admission at the door is $3 per person, $10 per family and free for under age 3. For information, call Jodi at 941-2952, ext. 323, or email email@example.com.
BAR HARBOR — The Nature of Halloween, sponsored by College of the Atlantic’s George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History and Acadia National Park, 5-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, at the museum, 105 Eden St. Creepy exhibits and activities. Costumes welcome. Admission by donation. For information, call the museum at 288-5395 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BATH — Guided trolley tour of Oak Grove Cemetery, Oct. 21 and 26. Seating is limited; reservations are suggested. Members, $20; nonmembers, $27; under age 17, $12. Fee includes museum admission.
BREWER — Pumpkin carving party to benefit local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter, noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at Tiller & Rye, 20 South Main St. Sign up by Oct. 20 to reserve a pumpkin. Tickets for $7 can be purchased in the store or by visiting tillerandrye.com/pumpkin-carving/. For information, call 356-1981.
ELLSWORTH — DownEast Dancers’ Spooktacular Halloween Dance, 7:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, Downeast Family YMCA gymnasium, 238 State St. Music by Crown Vics. Costumes encouraged. $10 per person; $6 for seniors and students. For information, call 288-5491.
FORT KENT — Historic Haunted House, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 and 9:30 p.m. Oct. 24, at the Dube House, Dube Street. $5 per person. For information, visit facebook.com/events/489416451236848/.
GRAY — Halloweenfest, Oct. 23-24, at Maine Wildlife Park, Route 26. Admission to the park free for ages 3 and under; $5.50 for ages 4-12 and seniors; $7.50 for adults. Groups of 15 or more $3.50 per person.
HALLOWELL — Walking tour of the Hallowell Cemetery, 1 p.m. Oct. 17. Meet at the fountain at the center of the cemetery. Rain date 1 p.m. Oct. 18. Tour is free and open to the public. Donations accepted.
HEBRON — Zombie Invasion Halloween Ride, 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights in October, at Harold Brooks’ farm, 12 Harold Lane. $18 per person; $12 for age 12 and under. For information, visit facebook.com/Zombie-Invasion-Halloween-Ride-409498922576618/timeline/.
KENDUSKEAG — The Kenduskeag Haunted House, 7 p.m.-midnight Oct. 30 and 31, at Cole Memorial Ball Field, Kenduskeag-Levant Road.
KITTERY — Night Terrors Haunted Woods Walk, 7-10 p.m. Oct. 16, 17, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31, at Take Flight aerial adventure course, 506 Blue Star Memorial Highway. $15 general admission. $25 RIP VIP, $42 zipline with zombies, $10 kid’s scare-free event from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 17. For information, visit nightterrorshauntedwalk .com.
LEBANON — Destination Haunt, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 29, Destination Haunt, 249 Lord Road. Tickets are $20 Friday and Saturday nights, $18 Thursdays and Sunday nights. For information, visit destinationhaunt.com.
LINCOLN — Lincoln Haunted Trail Walk, 6-9 p.m. Oct. 17 and 24, at Lincoln’s Community Walking and Fitness Trail, Lee Road. For information, visit lincolnmaine.org, call 794-6548 or email email@example.com.
LINNEUS — Haunted Hayride, Oct. 16-17 and 23-24. Hayride tickets $7 per person per ride. Proceeds go to the Linneus Rec Department. Members of the Linneus Rec Department will start selling tickets at 6 p.m.; the first ride leaves at dark, about 6:30 p.m.
NEW GLOUCESTER — Haunted Woods Walk, 6-8 p.m. Oct. 23 and 24, at Pineland Farms, 15 Farm View Drive, New Gloucester. $5. For information, visit pinelandfarms.org.
PARSONSFIELD — Haunting at Parsonsfield Seminary, 6:30-9 p.m. Oct. 16, 17, 23 and 24, at Parsonsfield Seminary, 504 North Road. Tickets are $10 on Oct. 16; $12 for other dates; $5 for age 12 and under. For information, visit facebook.com/The-Haunting-at-Parsonsfield-Seminary-161300077291059/timeline/.
PRESQUE ISLE — Presque Isle Historical Society Haunted Lantern History Tours, Oct. 23-24. Tours begin at 6 and 7 p.m. each night at Historic Fire Station, 11 Church St. $5. For information, call Kim Smith at 762-1151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROSPECT — Fright at the Fort, 5:30-9 p.m., Oct 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31, at Fort Knox. For information, visit fortknox.maineguide.com/fright/.
SCARBOROUGH — Halloween at Ferry Beach, 3-8 p.m. Oct. 31, Ferry Beach, Scarborough. Tickets are $50 family of two, $85 for family of four. For information, visit ferrybeach.org/halloween.html.
UNION — Halloween Trunk or Treat, 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, Vose Library, 392 Common Road.