Let the scares begin

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

One dark and stormy night on the way home from a ballgame, a school bus crashed into a fuel truck inside the old tunnel and everyone was killed. The tunnel was sealed and the road closed until the 1980’s. When the tunnel was unsealed, the spirits of the dead were found haunting the tunnel and all the spirits come out at night when they are disturbed … and so the story goes.

Since 1991, the Ironton Lion’s Club has been opening the Haunted Tunnel every October, located at U.S. 93 and U.S. 52, to celebrate Halloween.

And each year, some new ghosts are created and displayed for the public to see.

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“Every year, we try to change things to make it different for the people who come through,” said Lou Pyles, Lion’s club member.

This year, a new Meat Market and an insane asylum were created. The graveyard and the vampire were refurbished and the vortex has been repainted.

“We’ve been working long 12-hour days and late at night for two months,” Pyles said.

This is the only fundraiser the Lion’s Club has every year and it is used for many community projects.

“All the money that is received goes back into our community,” Pyles said. “The last four years we’ve purchased pilot dogs for the blind. We pay for the dogs and we pay for the recipient to go to Columbus to train with the dog. It takes a month.”

Lion’s Club also gives to Community Hospice, Ironton City Mission, Ironton Little League, Ohio Lion’s Eye Research Foundation, Ohio Lion’s Diabetes Foundation and Sight First II for eye research.

The Lion’s main project is sight. They also purchase eyeglasses for children.

The club collects used eyeglasses and they can be dropped off at the Haunted Tunnel.

“Children are always our first priority,” Pyles aid. “That is our main thing — vision. We just recently sponsored vision screening for the Early Childhood Center in South Point.”

They also give scholarships each year of $1,000 each.

Volunteers from Ohio University Southern help with the Haunted Tunnel every year.

Last year more than 3,500 people visited the tunnel. People from throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and one couple came as far as Germany last year.

“It was the first time they had ever come through something like this,” Pyles said. “They came back the next night and brought some friends.”

The club asks for a $5 donation to go through the tunnel that is 20 feet wide and 200 feet long.

The tunnel will be open every Friday and Saturday night in the month of October beginning this Friday night from 7 to 11 p.m.

“We have a great time with this,” Pyles said. “We love having victims.”