Marshal Scotty’s Scary Trail is fun, frightful and giving

2
26
WEBScottys.jpg

Sitting inside a small brown house with one of its walls festooned with bright, colorful Christmas lights surrounding a roughly painted-on Ouija-like alphabet, it feels like one has entered Joyce Byers’ living room in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, and not just taken the freeway exit off Ridge Hill Road in El Cajon.

After closing in the late nineties, El Cajon’s beloved old Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park came back from the dead, thanks in part to Alpine resident Dustin Parr.

Sitting inside a small brown house with one of its walls festooned with bright, colorful Christmas lights surrounding a roughly painted-on Ouija-like alphabet, it feels like one has entered Joyce Byers’ living room in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, and not just taken the freeway exit off Ridge Hill Road in El Cajon.

After closing in the late nineties, El Cajon’s beloved old Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park came back from the dead, thanks in part to Alpine resident Dustin Parr.

“We’re all hanging out in the ‘Stanger Things’ house,” Parr said.

Last year, Parr and some friends decided it would be a great place for a haunted trail.

This year, the Marshal Scotty’s Scary Trail is back.

Like last year, when the trail raised money for Saving Horses Inc., a portion of each ticket will benefit a local charity. This year, the trail will benefit a cause close to Parr, the Lyonhearted Foundation, based in Alpine. The Christian foundation is family run and seeks to raise awareness and find a cure for pediatric cancer.

Parr got involved with Lyonhearted because of his children’s little league team.

“I’m on their board as an event person so I thought this would be a great thing to raise some money and some awareness for them,” he said.

Parr said that around $1 per ticket will be given to the foundation and most of the remaining money will go into paying the property’s rent, the paid actors and other expenses.

“The more people who come, the more money we raise,” he said.

The trail now boasts around 30 paid actors who prowl around the half mile loop playing a variety of parts including clowns, scarecrows, zombies, freaks, werewolves and even the Demogorgon from the TV series “Stranger Things.”

“It’s just because my boys love ‘Stranger Things’, we like kind of fell in love so we thought it would be fun to do something in this house,” Parr said.

The rest of the trail’s theme takes its inspiration from the park itself. 

“I got a haunted amusement park here,” he said. “Not too many places have roller coasters and Ferris wheels and bumper cars.”

Another mastermind behind the project, Ryan Powers, mentioned the very short time it took to put it together last year versus this year.

“It was all his (Parr’s) harebrained idea last year and he made it happen with about two or three weeks to prepare, to dig into a place that has been abandoned for years, cut a trail out and make it safe for people to walk around,” he said.

The response was immediately positive.

Cameron Roberts, who embodies the clown Smirkles, said he got involved last year from the very beginning because of a Facebook post advertising the future haunt, so he got in touch with Parr and helped build the original trail.

“We posted some pictures of the aftermath online and people loved it,” Roberts said.

Parr agreed.

“Obviously the park speaks for itself, it doesn’t need much,” he said.

Anthony Oliver, who sometimes plays the aforementioned Demogorgon, agreed on the park’s natural look as a haunted trail.

“It’s very genuine,” he said. “All the holes and nooks and crannies and everything are real.”

After the park closed, although the go-carts were recently reopened, it became a sort of fantastic mythical place for El Cajon residents who had either gone to Marshal Scotty’s as children or heard about it from their older acquaintances and had been itching to go in there and take a look inside.

“People have been like, I’ve been trying to get in this park for 14 years,” Parr said. “They were excited that they even got access to the park and they hadn’t been in here since they were kids or since they took their kids.”

Kevin Gaudette, an actor on the trail, remembered when his sister took him to the park as a child.

“I remember being 3 or 4 and coming here in like 1972 or 1973 maybe,” he said. “The train, the waterslides, the go-karts. I remember.”

Dakota James, who also plays a clown, said that although he did not get to go before its closure, the park became a familiar sight for the people of El Cajon.

“Everybody knew about it in the area, with the big Ferris wheel,” he said. “It’s the creepy abandoned amusement park off the freeway.”

For Parr, getting the owners to actually rent the park took a lucky bit of networking.

“There was a friend, through baseball, up in Alpine, he ran the racetrack, so he was the liaison to the family.  I said hey, I’d like to do this and he went to them and they said ok. And that was it. Just took one guy,” he said.

Although there are rumors that the land the park sits on will be sold to make a housing development, Parr said he would like to keep making the scare trail happen every Halloween as long as the property is available and mentioned the possibility of doing a Christmas event this year.

“As long as it’s available, we are going to do something with it every year for Halloween,” he said.

The trail is mostly family run, with the proof being Parr’s children, who both participate as actors.

“It’s all family related. I love watching my son at the roller coaster freeze people and they don’t know what to do because he’s like a little 10-year- old crawling on the ground and they don’t know how to react to him,” he said. 

As maybe the only haunt in the East County, Parr said he hopes the community will turn out in spite of the recent tense atmosphere in El Cajon.

“People can come and escape a little if they can and I don’t think anybody should be afraid to come out here and enjoy themselves and take a break,” he said.

The scare trail is open every weekend in October from Thursday thru Sunday starting at around 7 p.m.

2 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here