Ironton Lions, volunteers scaring up weekend finale
IRONTON — You could say that 21-year-old Paul Brown really likes to scare people every October.
If you saw him dressed in his “Harry Warden” costume from the classic horror film “My Bloody Valentine” — think crazed coal miner crossed with a serial killer — you would also say that Brown is very good at it.
The South Point resident is one of dozens of volunteers who join members of the Ironton Lions Club every October to put on the Haunted Tunnel, touted as the region’s scariest haunted attraction and the biggest fundraiser for the civic organization.
Brown and others are gearing up to close the season this weekend with a bang. Well, more precisely, a scream or two.
The tunnel will be open from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday night for its grand finale. Located near the U.S. 52 and State Route 93 intersection across from the Ironton Hills Shopping Center, the cost is $5 per person.
“This tunnel, from my perspective, is the best haunted house around,” Brown said. “It is a lot of fun.”
Brown has been volunteering for the past four years, donating dozens of hours and often spending a great deal of time meticulously donning his chosen costume.
But his love for the tunnel began long before he ever put on his first mask of Michael Myers from the “Halloween” film series.
“Ever since I was little and went into the tunnel, I just loved it. It scared me a lot but I just loved it,” Brown said. “… I also enjoy that all the proceeds go back to the community and to help those in need.”
As the largest fundraiser for the all-volunteer group, it supports a variety of the Lions Club’s civic projects as well as assists other area organizations including Ironton In Bloom, the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade Committee, the City Welfare Mission and many others.
One key project, which meets the Lions International focus of working to help those who are vision impaired, is to provide a service dog — commonly called a seeing-eye dog — to someone who couldn’t afford one otherwise. The club has sponsored three dogs in recent years, each at a cost of more than $8,000.
“We have had another great year, but we always want to finish strong so that we can continue to focus on the tremendous needs within community, as we have for decades,” said Michael Caldwell, club president for the 2012-2013 year. “The tunnel’s success really drives what we can give back. Every dollar goes to address a need in our county.”
The Lions Club has converted the former State Route 75 highway tunnel into southern Ohio’s one-of-a-kind haunted attraction each October for nearly two decades.
After thieves vandalized the tunnel in 2011, the Lions Club had to reinvest in it to make the tunnel better — and scarier — than ever.
For more information, contact Caldwell at (740) 532-1441 or Joe Jenkins at (740) 533-0363.