Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Underground Freak Show in Downtown Cumberland

          The Haunted Tunnels at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Washington Street in downtown Cumberland is open for another Halloween season. Upon entering the tunnels during the set-up, everyone was rushing to get decorations, props, and costumes ready before the first group arrived. "We're so shorthanded, we have less and less people helping us every day." explained supervisor and tour guide Sydney Barmoy. The theme of the tunnels this year is "Freak Show" with gypsy fortune tellers, a human dart board, a dunking board with a skeleton, an animal-like "wild child", a contortionist dancer known as "The Black Widow", and a concession stand of body parts with an "Eagle Man" (an actor with an eagle mask). On the subject of the Eagle Man's mask, volunteer Devin Siemer called it "pretty creepy. It actually terrifies the s--t out of me." After paying the $3 admission fee, the groups are led by Sydney into the first room, where the gypsy and Eagle Man reside. The room is completely pitch black, with only strobe and black lights to illuminate the way. After making their way past the Eagle Man, dunking board, and other oddities, the group is then led into the actual underground tunnels. The tunnels are very dark, low, cramped, and smoky, giving off an extreme claustrophobic feel. Upon entering the tunnels, the Wild Child jumps out at the group, causing them to become disoriented as Sydney leads them into the first dead end, the lair of the Black Widow. The Black Widow's lair is very dark, with only a few neon lights, giving her a very eerie look as she performs her dance routine, which has a bit of a contortionist appeal. Along with the dancing, the Widow's lair also has countless spiders hanging from the ceiling from fishing line, tangling up the participants and terrifying them even more. After escaping from the Black Widow, the group is then lead into a room with a staircase, giving them hope of escape, only to be terrorised by a chainsaw-wielding maniac, causing them to run back towards the Wild Child. After finding relief over the Wild Child's absence, Sydney then leads them to the exit (which was previously blocked by the Wild Child). After counting heads to make sure no one was left behind, Sydney then releases the group into the cold October night. As the group walks away from the church on the hill, they are abuzz with reviews of their experience. Participant Demetrius Hilton called it "very scary. The Black Widow definitely stood out the most, she was just so creepy and weird." If you'd like to experience the thrill of the Haunted Tunnels for yourself, they are open the weekends of October 18-20 and 25-27 from 7-11 with an admission fee of only $3. The Tunnels also offers three different ratings; PG, R, and X, depending on what you tell the front desk. The Haunted Tunnels definitely provides a thrilling Halloween experience.
For more info, go to the Tunnels' Facebook page at

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