Jaycees ready to scare in Grand Meadow

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 27, 2000

GRAND MEADOW – They have the best of everything in small-town life at Grand Meadow.

Friday, October 27, 2000

GRAND MEADOW – They have the best of everything in small-town life at Grand Meadow.

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Quiet residential streets, a thriving downtown retail center and community pride that helped build a new emergency services building that is the envy of other communities.

There is also a "dark side" to Grand Meadow: The local Jaycees love to scare the bejeezus out of everyone.

Each year, the Grand Meadow Jaycees spend their leisure hours throughout October decorating two basements on the town’s main street and turning it into the stuff that makes nightmares.

Farmers take time from the fall harvest to construct the latest gruesome sight. Dennis Reideman, an electrician, stops work to join the fun.

And, the organization’s women – Lori Stier, Mary Beth Cooper and Wendy Forthun – positively delight in the devilment they undertake.

Forthun is the chairwoman of this year’s Halloween fund-raiser. With help from her husband Aaron, she has engineered this year’s Haunted House project.

"The organization has been doing this for over 11 years," Forthun said. "Each night, we’ve had between 15 and 20 people at work. Husbands, wives, and children, plus friends of the Jaycees, all help out."

There are 14 different attractions in what the Grand Meadow Jaycees advertise as "the best place to scare up some fun for Halloween."

"Chucky’s back," Stier said as if announcing the return of a long lost loved one. "Plus we’ve got some new attractions like the phobia room and the human sacrifice room. We keep changing it each year to keep it fresh and exciting."

The Jaycees have two basement storefronts at their disposal and make good use of them, creating winding paths through the creepiest terrain imaginable.

Each night, a different organist plays the gloomiest music to add to the experience.

Visitors will have cobwebs above their heads and leaves on the floor to add to the "ambiance" of the Jaycees’ idea of Halloween fun.

This year, Grand Meadow High School graduates and twin brothers Jacob and Jared Gehling volunteered their push-the-envelope-as-far-as-it-goes expertise at terrorizing trick or treaters in the Haunted House.

The attraction has earned the Grand Meadow Jaycees district and regional honors and because it’s such a successful fund-raiser, the envy of other Jaycees chapters.

"It’s been very successful through the years," said Stier, who joined the organization in 1990 with her husband Al. "It allows us to provide two $500 scholarships to Grand Meadow High School graduates, send students to the Eagle Bluff environmental science learning center and helped our $10,000 contribution to the city’s new emergency services building."

"The community and surrounding area really support us at Halloween," she said.

"It’s just fun," Cooper said. "It’s something for the entire community and they really enjoy it."

Last year, 1,200 people toured the Jaycees’ Haunted House.

Al and Lori Stier and Dennis and Lisa Reideman are the senior members of the project today – each having 10 to their credit.

The hours of haunting fun are tonight, Saturday and Halloween Tuesday, from 7 to 10 p.m. each evening. Admission is $3 per person.

A special "Quiet Fright" tour will be given from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday for children ages 5 and younger.

"There’s more light and a lot less noise and fewer smiling ghosts during Quiet Fright," Forthun said.

The cost for the faint-of-heart and their children is $1 per person.