Kid-friendly black light maze added to River Valley Haunted Walk

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Brent Bachelder, right, adds to the black light maze while Nick Graham, coordinator of the River Valley Haunted Walk in Mexico, watches another 3-D creation for the kid-friendly walk at the River Valley Recreation Center in Mexico recently. The display is a new feature of Wicked — the River Valley Haunted Walk that will be held Oct. 19-20 and 26-27. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

MEXICO — When you put on the 3-D glasses, the walls of the black light maze come to life inside the River Valley Recreation Center, 15 Recreation Drive.

Some of the drawings have names like the witches’ hut, ghost house, clown asylum, vampire mausoleum and Dr. Frankenstein’s lab.

Called Chroma-Chaos, this display is a new feature of Wicked — the River Valley Haunted Walk, which takes place Oct. 19-20 and 26-27.

Nick Graham, coordinator of the Haunted Walk for five years, said, “This black light maze is the only one in the state of Maine that I know of.”

The kid-friendly maze covers nearly 1,000 square feet over three main rooms and six themes painted by master black light artist Brent Bachelder of Club Neopolsi Creations Design Studio in Rumford.

“People in the community have been asking for something for the little kids for a long time,” Graham said. “Wicked is not kid-friendly. It’s a scary haunted house. I think it’s the scariest haunted house in Maine.”

“Three years ago, I got it in my head what we needed to do is one of these 3-D black light mazes. I’ve been talking about it and trying to find the right artist, and trying to convince the rec center that we needed to invest the money to make this happen,” he said.

Then the artist known as Mr. Brent moved to town.

“I kind of specialize in black light painting,” Batchelder said. “To me, this is like my fine art. I had a theme, but I kind of make it up as I go along. It’s always in my head. I’ve done laser tag arenas, roller rinks, birthday parties, etc., but never anything for Halloween. And Halloween is my No. 1 favorite holiday.”

Graham said, “From the very first night he started painting, I’ve been over here like a little kid in a candy store. ‘Can I put my glasses on?’ I’ll stare at the wall for however long.”

He said Wicked is a fundraiser for the recreation center, with some money invested in the Haunted Walk.

Graham said the entire haunted walk is around 9,200 square feet, with some 40 volunteers working the event. Walkers will go through the laser swamp, added last year, on their way to another big draw this year, the pirate ship.

He said the goal is to attract 1,000 people to the Haunted Walk, which takes about 20 minutes.

“We’re working to draw people from out of town. But we’re fighting an uphill battle because people think that because we’re a small rec center that it’s not worth the drive. Because our price is low, people think it’s cheap and not going to be worth it,” Graham said.

He is also hoping to get a web cam for the 3-D maze to stream to Facebook “to catch the reactions of people who are coming through. It’s for kids, but it’s going to be fun for everybody.”

Doors open at 6 p.m., with walks from 7 to 10 p.m. or later. Tickets are $11 for Wicked and the Chroma-Chaos, or $5 for just Chroma-Chaos. There will be a snack bar available, with some classic movies playing in the gym.

FMI: visit RiverValleyWicked on Facebook, or call 207-364-4912.

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