It's spooky season in N.L. — here's how the province is celebrating

The lady in the tree lives in Conne River. People have been flocking to the area in search of her ahead of Halloween.  (Gwen Goodyear/Facebook - image credit)
The lady in the tree lives in Conne River. People have been flocking to the area in search of her ahead of Halloween. (Gwen Goodyear/Facebook - image credit)
Gwen Goodyear/Facebook
Gwen Goodyear/Facebook

Spooky season is upon us, and ghosts and ghouls across Newfoundland and Labrador are gearing up for the biggest fright of the year.

In Conne River, Miawpukek First Nation is inviting those who dare to visit the lady in the tree — a trip that may sound innocent enough, but will take an eerie turn.

Colleen Lambert, tourism, culture, and recreation director for Miawpukek First Nation, told CBC News the community has gotten behind the effort.

Folks have been making the journey to find her — embedded and camouflaged amid a tall standing maple near a popular walking trail.

"The lady in the tree challenge is a physical activity challenge where we've invited people to get out on the community trail to search for a very distinct tree," said Lambert.

"She truly looks like she's captured in that tree by some kind of witchy or wizardy spell."

Melanie John/Facebook
Melanie John/Facebook

The whereabouts of the tree are being kept secret. The challenge is to find it, snap a photo and post it in the Facebook group under the same name, and in turn get entered into a contest where the town will give away a Halloween basket to the winner.

Over 100 images have been uploaded so far, said Lambert, with people visiting from outside of the community to take part in the challenge.

'A lot of chaos'

On the west coast of the island, there's something spooky bubbling in Corner Brook on Main Street.

The House of Horrors is back, and even bigger than before as lifted pandemic restrictions allow for a much larger production this time around.

"We've basically taken a completely gutted building and have built a 15 to 20 minute haunted house tour," said Jade Lawrence, the attraction's director.

"It's probably 7,000 square feet. It's two stories — a whole upstairs and a whole downstairs."

Last year's running of the haunted house was held to only a single floor, in a smaller building, but did raise just over $16,000 for the Kids Eat Smart program — an initiative providing meals to school-age kids.

Lawrence said this year's funds will go to the same program.

"There's a lot of colour, a lot of chaos, I would say, to kind of make you unsure of where you are," she said of this year's haunted house.

"There's a lot of background noise, a lot of prop noise and a lot of acting that comes from the people that put it together."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

'We are story tellers'

And of course it's not the Halloween season without some ghost stories.

O'Brien Farm in St. John's held its second-ever haunted hike — a 1.5-kilometre journey through the property's trail system — after large success a year ago.

The after dark haunted trail hike features spooky stories based in Irish-Newfoundland folklore told around a camp fire.

"We take small groups around and we have little vignettes set up with some amazing actors from Exchange Theatre," said Aaron Rogers, executive director of the O'Brien Farm Foundation.

"They give small monologues, and the monologues are based in Irish and Newfoundland tradition and folklore."

O'Brien Farm Foundation/Facebook
O'Brien Farm Foundation/Facebook

Some of the stories are true to life events stemming from first-hand accounts on the family property from the O'Brien brothers themselves.

Actor and writer Sheilagh Guy Murphy is just one of the crew members making the event come to life by portraying "a character who actually could have lived in any community in Newfoundland, but she is a person from the past from O'Brien Farm."

"We are story tellers bringing to life vignettes of interesting, sad and sometimes terrifying things that have happened in Newfoundland and Labrador," she said.

Rogers said the foundation looks for different ways to raise money, and the 31-acre property boasts dozens of trails that are perfect for walking tours steeped in history and the Halloween season.

"It keeps kind of expanding. We really tried to do that naturally. We worked with playwrights to get the stories right and really good actors," he said.

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