Forest of Fear stirs up screams from crowds and donations to the community
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Plenty of volunteers and a steady stream of people seeking to get spooked allowed the Forest of Fear to scare up a record amount of donations to support local students and community organizations.
The Forest of Fear, located off of Stephan Bridge Road, ran every weekend in October up through Halloween.
The Forest of Fear marked its 14th anniversary this year.
Volunteers established a new record, bringing in $12,000 to support school programs and non-profit organizations. That beat the $9,800 raised last year.
“I think we’re just getting more well known,” said Forest of Fear founder Tom Cojocar.
Cojocar’s daughter, Angie Hempel, who helps coordinate the Clown Town, also said social media helped play a factor into the success of the haunted trail walk this year.
“Word on the street is just we put on a good show,” she said. “It’s just getting it out there.”
A record number of 2,800 went through the haunted attraction this year. They only had to shut down one night due to inclement weather, and shut down two hours earlier on another night they could no longer run.
Each night brought in more visitors and money than the year before.
“That’s a pretty good hunk of change,” Cojocar said.
Cojocar acknowledged the community for supporting the Forest of Fear and also wanted to give an extra shout out to his neighbors. Volunteers utilize cones and flashlights for traffic control when the Forest of Fear is underway.
“They tolerate a lot with the traffic,” Hempel said.
The Crawford County Commission on Aging and Grayling Senior Center was given $2,000 to support the Meals on Wheels program.
The Crawford County Community Christian Help Center and Food Pantry received $2,560 in cash as well as food donations.
Hempel, who is the assistant director at the Help Center, said the support goes a long way this time of year.
“Food donations are good because we can immediately put them on the shelf, and fill the shelf,” she said.
Donations of $1,000 each were given to the Viking Food Pantries housed at the Grayling High School, Grayling Middle School, and Grayling Elementary School. The pantries send food, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies home to help students and their families.
Another $500 was given to the Grayling Elementary School to buy hats, boots, and gloves for students who need them.
The Roscommon Elementary School received a $600 donation to purchase hats, boots, and gloves for students.
An $800 donation was given to the River House Shelter, Inc., which will be used to support people seeking refuge from sexual assault and domestic violence in the Grayling area.
The Crawford County Devereaux Memorial Library received $200 for an after school snack program for students who utilize the library.
The Forest of Fear provided a $500 donation to the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter to help purchase cleaning supplies.
A $200 donation was made to transport Grayling Middle School students to the Forest of Fear on a field trip. Two $170 donations were given to transport a pair of Grayling Elementary School students to the Forest of Fear.
“The just got to hang out at the Forest of Fear around a bonfire, eat good food, walk the trails as much as they wanted, and just enjoy it,” Hempel said.
The students not only got to see the haunted trail walk, but many of them volunteer year after year following their visit to the popular Halloween attraction.
The Grayling High School tennis team received a $600 donation. Last year, the team purchased new uniforms with the donated funds.
Cojocar said he looks forward to carrying on his labor of love with his volunteers who help him out to support the community.
“I just do it for the fun of it, but it is a good feeling passing out this money to all these people,” he said. “It makes it all worth it.”