Haunted Hayride rolls on

Hosted by the Wonder Lake Water Ski Show Team, the spooky annual tradition scares Halloween lovers of all sizes


Wonder Lake Ski Team

Actors pose as killer clowns during the Haunted Hayride through Peterson Park this fall hosted by the Wonder Lake Ski Team.

Jaylyn Dolan, Contributing Writer

Children and adults climbed onto trailers and hopped on hay bales at Peterson Park last weekend, ready to experience one of McHenry’s Halloween traditions: The Haunted Hayride. 

Peterson Park has hosted the Haunted hayride by the Wonder Lake Water Ski Show Team for 23 years. It is an annual fundraiser for the team. Team members come from an hour away to help put the hayride together.

Jennifer Blaksley, the Wonder Lake Water Ski Show Team committee said, “We do it because it helps our team and it’s also a fun community event. People come from all over.” she said, “It seems that people are excited to be out and about doing things again and it’s a fun thing to do that you can take your family with and enjoy the evening.”

The hayride travels through 17 scenes and an imaginary world known as Deadwood, where a villain named Henry Deadwood takes over. The goal is to find Henry Deadwood and capture him. Nobody has found him…yet. 

Blaksley said, “We don’t put an age on it because every kid is different. We’ve had parents bring a two year old and they are fine. Then some 8 year olds are terrified.” 

All kids are welcomed, no matter the age. 

A student from MCHS, Jacqueline Huff who went to the haunted hayride October 16 said, “it’s kind of scary but also kind of depends on where you were seated as well.” 

When rating the haunted hayride on a “scary scale,” Huff said, “it is less than a five,” though Blaksley says, “I’d say 6 out of 10 on the scary scale.”

Approximately 4,500 people came through in total over the four nights. 

“This was one of our busiest years in a while,” said Blaksley. 

The money from this event is donated to Wonder Lake Water Ski Show Team and other fundraisers they do. 

Blaksley said the money helps with team expenses like insurance, costumes, equipment, boats, fuel for our boats, etc. She says, “As a nonprofit organization we would not be able to perform our ski shows without the community’s support.”