Haunted Mines scares up local excitement

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Foolish mortals beware. If you wish to be carried into the mouldering sanctum of the spirit world, then the Haunted Mines will more than wet your pallet.

But even if you are coaxed by a friend or family member to enter its scary haunts, you will likely be glad you visited the best haunted Halloween attraction this side of Denver.

Either way, the experience will probably leave you shaking in your boots.

“We want to make the haunt experience the best that we can,” said Ted Robertson, who is in charge of marketing for the Mines. “We want to have the whits scared out of you.”

The Mines opened last Friday (Sept. 20). The staff of ghoulish volunteers will do their best to scare up a little excitement in the area until the last patron screams in delight, or terror, on Nov. 2.

“They scare because they care,” Robertson said. “We have 100 volunteers who put in thousands of hours every year.

“We break things down in November, and in January we start planning for next year.”

The volunteers include makeup artists, directors, acting coaches, builders, security and parking attendants, and of course monsters.

The PG-13 attraction is in its seventh year of operation. It takes place at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry off of North Gate (exit 156 north).

As in the past, all the proceeds from the event go local donors. This year the tier one donors are Tri-Lakes Cares, Black Forest Animal Rescue, Western Mining Museum, and the Westcott Fire Protection District.

Steve Roscio is the director/producer/mastermind of the Haunted Mines. In 2006, Roscio and a few other haunting experts began constructing an elaborate set on the grounds of the Western Mining Museum. A year later the Haunted Mines opened to several thousand visitors.

“We like this place,” said Roscio, who is hoping to attract as many as 25,000 visitors to the attraction this fall. “It has a good spooky feeling to it.

“A lot of people enjoy the interaction they get with the characters. And of course, the fear element is always present. But our No. 1 goal is entertainment. Scaring is just one of the ways we do that. We get your heart pounding in a good way.”

The recent storms presented a challenge for Roscio and his staff as they hurried to get Mines ready in time for the opening.

“The rain set us back,” he said. “The area flooded twice. We had to rebuild roads. We had to get the power back on. And there's a massive river running through here now.”

Since the spirits haunt the museum grounds in gloomy darkness. Visitors are encouraged not to get too comfortable. One never knows when ghosts are present practicing their foolish terror.

Of course, the best way to enjoy the Mines to let monsters have their way. Screams of terror usually rule the night.

“The experience varies depending on the kind of person,” Roscio said. “There are some tight, claustrophobic (Claustrophobia) places. Monsters like to get you. There's the classic chain saw and Giggles the Clown. But he's not the kind of clown you normally think of. And there's the descention ride down 1,300 feet (into McDygut's Mine Shaft). Of course, it (the Hellavator) breaks down every night.”

The Mines open at 8 p.m. each night. Ticket prices vary.

The Mines are once again offering a VIP package that allows visitors to move closer to the front of the line; sort of like Disneyland's Fast Pass system. For a complete schedule or more information about the mines visit www.hauntedmines.org.

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