NORMAN — For the last 20 years, Cindy Steveson and her staff have been scaring the dickens out of everyone who enters her property during October. The fright of a lifetime has been intentional, and all of Steveson’s subjects have come willingly.
Steveson, owner of Thunderbird Stables, has been busy for the last month preparing for another year of the Black Hole, a haunted trail that is full of depictions of characters from scary movies like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Psycho.”
What started out as something fun has now evolved into almost a second business for Steveson, who added that people who were teenagers when the trail first started are now bringing their children.
“We’ve always done hayrides in the fall. During Halloween time, we started dressing in costume and going out to campsites where the people were and spooking them,” Steveson said.
From there, the idea evolved that Steveson should open up an abandoned horse trail on her property and start a haunted forest.
“The Black Hole has nothing to do with the hayride. It is just a walk through a haunted trail in the woods. It has nothing to do with horses. It’s just people scaring people. They can look forward to getting the pants scared off of them.”
Steveson adds that the trail is not really for children.
“It’s scary. I personally think walking in the woods at night is scary without some monster jumping out at you,” Steveson said. “It takes about 20 minutes to walk through it, depending on how scared you get and who is behind you.”
With a staff of about 30 individuals acting out scenes from different scary movies, it takes about a month to build the 10 stations along the trail.
“I don’t even like scary movies. The kids that work for me will come up with an idea. I’ve watched a few, but I really don’t like scary things. It sounds kind of weird that I would build this sort of thing,” Steveson said. “But other people do, and there are people that come back every year and want to know what we changed. They will come two or three nights in a row and bring different friends.
“Everybody has an act that they are supposed to do. They are not just in costume jumping out at people. They have a scene that they work. It may be a line from a movie they are supposed to say.”
This year’s walk will be Oct. 19-21. Starting on Oct. 25, the Black Hole will be open every night through Halloween. The Black Hole will start at dark and will run until midnight. Cost is $15 per person and weather and ghouls permitting.
“We’ve had some years where we got rained out,” Steveson said.
In August, Steveson not only worried about the future of the Black Hole but also the future of her home and Thunderbird Stables. During the wildfires, Steveson’s business, located at 142nd and State Highway 9 in the Clear Bay area of Thunderbird State Park, was threatened like many other properties in the area.
“We just had to lock the gates, turn everything loose and go. We had enough property that they (the horses) would go to the water. They would not go to the fire. I felt comfortable that they would be OK. But after a couple of days and the firemen saying you can’t go back in there, I started wanting to know if my horses were OK,” Steveson said.
Steveson knows she’s one of the lucky ones, since she only lost a storage barn and part of her pasture was burnt. “I’m thankful every day,” Steveson said.
For more information on Thunderbird Stables or the Black Hole, call 321-5768 or visit www.thunderbirdstables.com.