A Halloween Tradition
The Hertzog Haunted Trail in Stoney Creek Plantation is a scary neighborhood affair.
The Stoney Creek Plantation neighborhood in Leland has been transformed into a Halloween-lover’s paradise with its barrage of skeletons, jack-o’-lanterns, ghouls, witches, zombies and scary clowns. Residents up and down the streets started decking out their homes the first of October, as they have done for the past several years. But the main neighborhood attraction is the Hertzog Haunted Trail, hosted by Jeff and Danielle Hertzog and their two children, Gabriel and Elliott.
For the second year in a row, the Hertzogs, along with the entire community, have come together to create a haunted attraction on the half-acre of land behind their house. Jeff, who has been on paid leave because of the pandemic, has been working on the backyard attraction since March. He says with the “construction and creative side of things, I’ve spent about four months on it.” The construction includes a 16-foot x 16-foot haunted house, a side of a barn and a morgue.
“I can’t really estimate the amount of time it’s taken because it’s something never really stop working on,” he says. “Sometimes I walk through the trail and come up with new ideas.”
What sets this haunted attraction apart from some of the other scary adventures in the area is that it’s geared toward families. The first half of the trail isn’t as frightening as the second half and includes a cut-through for younger children to leave the path before they reach the more dramatic section. Jeff says there is “nothing traumatizing” during the second half, but they did want to bump up the scare factor for older participants.
The trail takes approximately 10 minutes to go through, but the time depends on how fast or slow guests want to take to experience it, as well as making allowances for safety and social distancing.
Stoney Creek has always been a go-to trick-or-treat destination, attracting a few thousand children over the past seasons. But the unknowns of COVID-19 make the predictability of this holiday difficult.
“Some families are understandably uncomfortable trick or treating this year,” Jeff says. “That’s one of the reasons we spiced up the outside decorations to give people an opportunity to drive through and check out the decorations. The Halloween spirit just spread through the entire neighborhood.”
The haunted trail isn’t the first time the tight-knit residents have come together. When Hurricane Florence came through southeastern North Carolina on September 14, 2018, Hertzog says approximately three-quarters of the Stoney Creek neighborhood was flooded. Neighbors helped rescue one another from rising waters, helped clear out debris and destruction and helped rebuild.
“A lot of the wood that we use for props is material that we pulled from houses that had been damaged and demoed after Florence,” Jeff says.
Hertzog Haunted Trail is definitely a joint effort by all. If someone has something they’re going to discard, they save it for the trail. “There is always something laying around,” Jeff says. “What I need is always there. This is a result of everybody chipping in.”
Want to go?
Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31, starting at dusk
Stoney Creek Lane, Belville
Free, but donations are accepted to help fund next year’s event
Facebook: @Hertzog Haunted Trail