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Haunted mill means thrills and chills

Those who visit “Terror By the Creek” at the 117-year-old Howard’s Creek Mill have experienced all the good scares.
There’s the startle scare, the gross-out scare and the “You’ve got to be kidding me” scare. Participants have laughed, passed out, come back over and over and refused to ever enter the mill again.
“Everybody likes to be scared,” said Denise Propst, an organizer. “It’s human nature. It gets your adrenaline going and makes you feel good.”
For those brave enough to visit the haunt, it opens Oct. 7 and lasts until Halloween night.
Propst and her boyfriend, Eric Distasio, owner of the mill, have spent the past five years working to terrify visitors.
They do this with the help of 65 volunteer “scarers” – some dressed as horror movie characters, others creeping around trap doors, hanging from above or standing watch on the Chain Saw Trail.
Even without being filled with creepy characters and gross-out scenes, the mill still scares some visitors.
Propst is one of them. Five years ago, Distasio brought her to the mill at dusk and invited her to take a tour.
“I said ‘You’re crazy, I’m not going in there,’” she said. “It’s just really creepy.”
Since that initial visit, Propst has become courageous enough to enter the mill. Even now, however, strange occurrences still force her to leave. Like many others, Propst believes the mill is actually haunted.
She points out many reasons for this. First of all, there’s the eerie feeling you get when you enter the mill.
Beyond that, odd happenings have occurred during the 20 years her boyfriend has owned the mill.
There’s the time someone was given a hard shove, which sent him 50 feet across the room. He turned around to find nobody there.
Distasio’s own son saw tracks roll across the floor that resembled the marks a grain push cart would make.
There’s the fact the radio switches to country stations all on its own, and even if nobody’s in the mill, the phone is still somehow answered.
Things have also happened while “Terror By the Creek” is in full gear. Baby dolls strung from the ceiling have swayed all by themselves.
One year, Distasio’s mother warned him to get the people out of the third floor windows.
“There’s no way someone could get up there,” Propst said. “At that point, I had to leave and go outside.”
All this just adds to the mill’s Halloween charm. With its use as an actual mill now obsolete, the couple hope to keep it open through thrills and chills.
“We want to preserve it for the next 117 years for people to come by and see it,” Propst said.
by Sarah Grano

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