Don’t be daft like Captain Jack!
2013 was a very difficult year for the creators of Spooky Hollow Experience, Jack and Gina Rosenquist. After years of dealing with inconsistencies, no shows, in considerate cast members, Jack & Gina chose to dismiss the entire crew and return to the first years of Spooky Hollow when it was just them. An unimagined event happened in December of 2012 that caused the Rosenquists to seriously question whether or not they wanted to continue with Spooky Hollow Experience.
“You can not even imagine some of the things we have to put up with and endure during the month of October, let alone Halloween!” states Gina. “So when we started having problems with our crew – we said ‘that’s it!’ We dismissed our entire crew in December.”
During the first quarter of 2013, the Rosenquists seriously weighed all options. Their choices were quit all together, take a year off or simplify with less. Their creative side and dedication to their fans won over and they chose to do something that they had always wanted to do – Pirates of The Hollow!
“We wanted our fans to believe that we were going to continue with the haunt.” states Jack. “But we wanted more to surprise them. It was the best decisions we made.”
For seventeen years, the Rosenquists have been putting on Spooky Hollow Experience and for seventeen years they have always wanted to do a Pirate theme.
“The worst part was coming up with a title that did not give away what we were doing.” replies Gina. “The overall theme was ‘Pirates of The Hollow’ but we could not call it that. It was too obvious. We always want to surprise our fans and followers. We then wanted to call it ‘X Marks The Spot.’ But that too was obvious. So we called it ‘Crossroads.’”
The story of Crossroads is simple. It’s an ancient story that involves a human wanting to succeed in life so they go to a crossroad (a place where two roads cross each other) they dig a hole and place something in the hole to summon a demon to sell their soul to gain success.
There were no demons and no selling of souls for the Rosenquists. For them it was simply the crossroads of decisions and which decision they would make. The result was an elaborate display, show and a haunting experience for the whole family!
The season began in June, when we entered in to the Baldwin June Bug Days Parade. Their float featured the event’s theme to the fullest. The June Bug Days theme was “Grillin’With The Bug.” Gina spent a better half of a month to create our own version of ‘the bug.’ The float contained a grill cooking up various body parts, with various props including the M & M guys, skeletons, George and Rexy. Although they did not win this year, Gina did scare the Cumberland Band Director, who was featured after Spooky Hollow’s float.
On September 11th, Jack and Gina renewed their wedding vows with a small church service, surrounded by friends and family. They spent their honeymoon erecting a beautiful pirate ship named “The Black Skull.”
“For seventeen years we have always wanted to build a pirate ship.” tells Jack. “It took a bit of ingenuity to create such an incredible feat.”
The wood for The Black Skull was donated by a neighbor of Spooky Hollow Experience a few years back. Unfortunately, he passed away this past Spring and was not able to see the end result. The Black Skull featured only the bow of the ship, which measured 25 feet in length and 5 feet in height with a sixteen foot mast. The ship was designed to look like an old pirate ship that had sunk that was rising out of the water. The Captain’s wheel looked as if it had been broken off of the main ship.
Other additions included several new tombstones and more pumpkins. Fans and visitors saw the return of the infamous river of blood, the cannon, the cannon balls and the stock.
The season officially kicked off on October 1st with Spooky Hollow Experience’s Annual Light-Up ceremony. This year, to help raise funds for Spooky Hollow Experience, we hosted a Bake Sale as part of the Light-Up ceremony. The Rosenquists, hand baked several incredible Halloween oriented goodies and sold them at the light-up ceremony. Apple Cider was donated and provided by County Market in Hudson.
“It was so nice to return our light-up ceremony back to where we wanted it to be – a fun family event.” replies Gina, referring to last year’s fiasco with the Baldwin Queen’s court. “It was truly a fun night. I always love to see the look on the children’s faces when we count down to 1 and light it up for the first time.”
October 1st would be the last day in which the weather was nice. Soon after, the weather turned cold and rainy. It was as if, The Black Skull was riding the high sea amongst the fallen rain.
However, the troubles did not cease for the Rosenquists. The night of October 29th, the Rosenquists were found in the Emergency Room at Hudson Hospital. The stakes were high as Gina kept losing her vision. The ER Doctor was perplexed as to the cause.
Halloween came with rain and cold, but that did not stop our fans, supporters and followers from coming. Many were quite perplexed when they arrived to see the Black Skull in place of the Mausoleum (the walk through building). However, most quite enjoyed the Black Skull, Captain Jack and Captain Gina.
“We had our pictures taken so many times with our guests in front of the ship.” stated ‘Captain’ Jack. “I think this year was the most fun, even if the weather was rotten. We finally got to do a pirate theme and it was a blast!”
“The best part of the night was the costume contest.” tells Gina. “There was a boy who was dressed in a knight’s costume. It was such an incredible costume! When I approached the young lad, he told me that he and his father made the costume. I looked up to the father and he was beaming with such pride over the work he and his son had done on the costume. It was so well built out of plywood that there was no way the young lad could not win. For a father and a son who worked so hard on that costume – it’s what Spooky Hollow Experience is all about. Artistry. Just thinking back to that young lad, it makes it all worth while.”
As the night progressed, Captain Jack and Captain Gina continued on their quest to find out who stole all of the Rum. As the night turned into the witching hour, the rum was never found and all of the creatures, tombstones, pumpkins, skeletons jumped aboard the Black Skull and disappeared for another year.
On Monday, November 4th, after a series of tests, Gina was finally diagnosed with having suffered a Stroke. The Rosenquist’s decision to simplify this year’s haunt helped to give them the much needed break.
As the rock band AC DC often sings “Pick up your balls and load up your cannons for a 21 gun salute…” It has been seventeen years and the Pirates of The Hallow want you to lift up your drinks of rum and toast to seventeen more years of Spooky Hollow Experience! Let us ride the waves of The Black Skull and see what it shall bring to Spooky Hollow Experience in 2014…
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