Terrie Eggert, 56, and Fred Mellini, 54, followed their longtime passion for the Halloween season by opening 13th Hour Rising, the haunted hayride experience at Chengerian’s Tree Land, 84 Merrit Road, Fulton.
They both started as home haunters in their early 20s, a hobby that continued for several decades, even after they retired from their respective careers in the Army and law enforcement. In 2014 owner Bob Chengerian asked the couple to create a new spooky showcase.
“We wanted a name that would allow us to be able to always switch up the scenes and not stay in one genre,” Eggert explained. “And 13th Hour Rising doesn’t mean anything because there is not a 13th hour on a clock.”
Starting this fall there will be two attractions that will lure people to the fright fest: the passage and the hayride. The passage way is small, packed and busy, which is different from the open feel of the hayride that offers seeming comfort. “The passage is a doorway leading to the dark side, and then it ties together with the hayride,” Eggert said.
The hayride has safety in numbers because the wagons can fit up to 30 passengers, making it harder to scare people. Yet efforts are made to ensure an unpredictable experience. Instead of someone jumping out at every stop, the ride features voice-overs, different props and scenes. There are no rules when it comes to horrific props and how to scare the customers.
Mellini and Eggert also handle the decorations, designing and ideas. They climb trees and ladders to create the buildings used in the scenes, never resorting to contractors for assistance. The actors also help with costumes and marketing chores.
“We like to make it all in-house,” Eggert said, “because it helps us create something that no one else has done in other haunted hayrides.”
Many different aspects go into creating the designs of the demonic clowns and creatures, with assists from animations, fog machines, pumps and lights. The co-owners also come up with the creepy ideas, instead of relying on shocks found in horror movies or TV shows.
There is no storyline because they want the customers’ minds to work and see where it takes them. “No two people can recreate what is in our heads to have the same kind of hayride,” Eggert said.
Before owning their business, Mellini would dress as the evil clown for the hayrides, but now they spend most of their time behind the scenes running the radios, lights and props.
Throughout the years, Eggert and Mellini have worked at other haunted attractions in the area, such as Screamers Hollow in Sterling. This gave them a loyal customer base, but now their main goal is to reach out to new people. “When you see people’s reactions and feedback leaving 13th Hour Rising, it is a high to us knowing we entertained them,” Eggert said.
Hours for 13th Hour Rising are 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, through Sunday, Oct. 8, for the Columbus Day weekend, then open Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 28. Tickets are $20 for both the hayride and the passage, $16 for the hayride, and $5 for the passage. Military and first responders are admitted free. For information, call (315) 651-2413 or visit 13thhourrising.com.