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City-sponsored haunted hay ride in Saint Robert open to all area kids
City-sponsored haunted hay ride in Saint Robert open to all area kids

Saint Robert firefighters Mikal Stillwell and Jeffery Teeters help put up a tombstone for the city's annual haunted hayride.
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Oct. 31, 2009) — Firefighters and city hall employees in St. Robert have worked for weeks to put together a greatly expanded haunted hay ride this year.

City-sponsored Halloween events in St. Robert for the last three years have been a haunted house in the community center and two hay rides — one haunted and the other “non-scary” without attacks by goblins, ghouls and ghosts. This year, just a few months after public works department personnel cleared out large amounts of brush and undergrowth from the east side of city-owned property behind the community center to expand the park system, much of that territory will be on display for an expanded hay ride.

The entire event is free to the public, regardless of whether visitors live in the St. Robert city limits or in Waynesville, Fort Leonard Wood, or a surrounding community.

St. Robert volunteer firefighter Joe Krill, who also heads up local Red Cross emergency response, said the free event will offer hot dogs, chips and soda for families in the community center rather than the haunted house that was there in previous years. City workers will also have a large bonfire outside the community center to help families warm up.

While the event officially runs from 6 to 8 p.m., the same hours as the city’s trick-or-treat functions, Krill said families are welcome to bring young children early to see fire trucks and other equipment on display.

“I think this makes a good opportunity for kids to meet firefighters and learn the firefighters are here to help kids and protect them,” Krill said. “If they want to get in the fire truck, we are more than willing to help them get into the fire truck. We want the community to feel we are a part of what goes on in this city.”

St. Robert’s Halloween event began just three years ago and built on a long-standing haunted house put on by city firefighters for their own families in the fire station. Firefighters opened that up to the public in 2006; in 2007 and 2008, firefighters and city hall employees worked together to host a larger event in the community center which can handle more people.

Tonight’s event will feature not only the two hayrides but also two bounce houses, one with pugil sticks, brought by Sgt. 1st Class Greg Polk, the local Missouri National Guard recruiter who is also a volunteer fire captain for the city’s fire department; costume judging; various children’s games; and free food and candy for the children.

Krill said the length of the hay ride is typically 15 to 20 minutes.

“It really depends,” Krill said. “If we are having fun with the people on the haunted hayride, we will play it as long as we can.”

Krill’s coordination work this year takes over from Linn Bays, a firefighter who has coordinated the event in the past and also helped this year, but won’t be able to volunteer on Halloween. While coordination for the event comes from a core of about two dozen firefighters and city hall workers, Krill said Air Force Detachment personnel and numerous soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood are also involved.

“The city employees have been really great to make sure we have the help we need,” Krill said.

More than three dozen local businesses have donated time or treats, he said.

“In my experience, it’s a safe place to come to, have some fun, maybe make some new friends,” Krill said. “We are happy to hear ideas on how to make this better. If somebody on the hay ride has an idea, please tell us. We’d like to hear it because it may be the best idea out there.”

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