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Haunted Tunnel opens Oct. 5

The rest of the year Dave Swartzwelder is a friendly kind of guy, but come October, he’ll turn, well, into quite a monster.

At least on the weekends.

Swartzwelder, a member of the Ironton Lions Club, is among those who will don a costume next month and take part in Ironton’s own shop of horrors.

The annual Ironton Lions Club Haunted Tunnel will scare visitors each Friday and Saturday night from 7-11 p.m starting Oct. 5.

For Lions Club members, the annual scare-a-thon is a point of pride.

“Other cities have haunted houses, but how many have haunted tunnels?” President Roy Smith pointed out.

It is also the organization’s biggest fundraiser. The proceeds go to a number of community causes, such as scholarships to area students, eyeglasses for the needy and donations to the City Welfare Mission.

The club has also purchased three seeing-eye dogs for visually impaired people in recent years, which is no small expense: a trained guide dog costs anywhere from $7,500-$8,000 each.

“There are few Lions Clubs in this area that sponsors seeing- eye dogs,” Swartzwelder said. “But it’s awesome. You take someone who can’t see, but they get a dog and this helps them get around.”

And thought the club members may organize the event, other volunteers also take part, among them are Ohio University students who get some class credit for their community service.

While Ironton may be known for football and festivals the rest of the year, come Halloween, it gets a completely different reputation, which is OK with those once-a-year monsters.

“They come from 50, 60 miles away just to go through the tunnel,” Swartzwelder said.

Admission is $5.