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OSG Paintball hosts terrifying fundraiser



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The MacRae family dresses up in evil clown costumes as part of “The Haunted Woods” at OSG Paintball in Barnstead. Weston Sager. (click for larger version)
October 20, 2010
BARNSTEAD — A chainsaw-wielding demon. A zombie pirate. A crazed Mr. Hyde.

What do these have in common? They're all on display at the fifth annual Halloween-themed "The Haunted Woods" fundraiser at OSG Paintball in Barnstead.

Dave Preston of Barnstead has once again transformed his paintball business into what he considers to be the "only big nonprofit haunted house in New Hampshire." All the proceeds from the event will go towards The Hampstead Stage Company and funding theater performances at underprivileged New Hampshire schools.

"It's of the funnest fundraisers New Hampshire has ever seen," Preston lauds.

"Funnest?" Perhaps. Scariest? Most certainly.

Preston is always thinking of how to terrify visitors to "The Haunted Woods" ever since Angie Hanson of The Hampstead Stage Company suggested he host such an event over five years ago. But he says that the growing popularity of horror movies is making it harder to scare people, particularly teens.

However, Preston may have found the solution this time. With visitors clinging to a black nylon rope in small groups, they tour a dimly lit path through OSG Paintball's intricate faux towns and ships. It is set up in such a way that there is no telling where or what will be seen next. But one thing is for certain: there are many, many opportunities to scream.

This year, there are four distinct but connected areas of terror. One is based on the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" show performed at The Hampstead Theatre earlier this summer. Another is cannibal-infested town. And the other two? You'll just have to see for yourself.

Patrons of this particular event will notice that the tour is now self-guided — a departure from years past. Preston believes this makes "The Haunted Woods" even more frightening.

"It's far scarier when it's self-guided," he says.

And because actors are no longer needed to guide tours, it frees up more people to leap out from behind trees and follow groups from an uncomfortably short distance.

Preston says there are 22 professional actors and 50 volunteers on hand to frighten the living daylights out of anyone brave enough to walk the 20-minute tour of Preston's haunting maze.

The volunteers who participate are particularly enthusiastic about the event. They dress up in all manner of frightening costumes and seem to take great pleasure in terrifying all those who walk past.

The MacRae family of Northwood is a good example. After playing paintball at OSG earlier that day, they stuck around to join in the Halloween-themed fun. They changed out of their paintball fatigues to put on disturbing costumes, generous amounts of face paint and grotesque masks. Although affable in the minutes leading up to the event, the family was nothing short of frightening when acting in the maze itself.

People from all over come to tour and participate in "The Haunted Woods." And it's usually a very successful fundraiser, says Preston. The only problem for him is the threat of precipitation. Given that "The Haunted Woods" is outdoors on several acres of the OSG Paintball's field, dry weather is a must for both the scare-seeking tourists and the actors. So if it's raining, don't bother making the trek over the back roads of Barnstead to get to OSG — it'll be for naught.

The Haunted Woods runs Friday and Saturday from 7 to 10:30 p.m. this weekend and next weekend at OSG Paintball in Barnstead. There is no age minimum, but parental discretion is strongly advised. Admission is $13 for adults and $8 for children 12 years and younger. All proceeds go to "support and promote the arts in New Hampshire."

For more information about OSG Paintball events, visit www.osgpaintball.com.

Weston Sager can be reached at 569-3126 or wsager@salmonpress.com

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