Haunted Depot opening

Ringgold's 13th annual Haunted Depot will open for three spooky weekends beginning Friday, Oct. 11.

Arguably Ringgold’s most popular event, the annual Haunted Depot will kick off Friday night, Oct. 11, with plans to terrorize the community for three straight weekends leading up to Halloween.

This year’s Haunted Depot will be Ringgold’s 13th installment of the event, which is designed and orchestrated by city staff and volunteers.

Unlike a number of haunted attractions in the area, Ringgold’s Haunted Depot offers Halloween-themed entertainment for all ages by not only turning the Depot into a haunted house, but also offering live entertainment, haunted ghost rides, hay rides with a bonfire, and great food for everyone.

“This is our 13th Haunted Depot, and we have seen growth each and every year,” said City Manager Dan Wright. “This is a family-oriented event that promotes community. We always receive great cooperation from our school systems as well.”

Getting the Depot ready for a fright is always the duty of city Parks and Recreation Director Stephen Middlebrooks, whose team spends two weeks building the haunted house inside the Depot, and even begins the design process months prior to the build.

“Over the years we've collected a lot of props, masks, and other surprises for people,” Middlebrooks said. “We're always trying to find a new use for things, and it's always a lot of fun. People love a good scare.”

Wright says the event is one of the city’s biggest, and added that sponsorships from local businesses play a huge role in bringing the event to life.

City Council member and Downtown Development Authority (DDA) chairman Randall Franks says the event creates a lot of unity for the community and their families.

“Ringgold's Haunted Depot is one of our most popular events bringing thousands of people into our community over several weekends," Franks said. “Over the years, as I volunteered, I have seen generations of families come together to enjoy one of the activities -- finding the opportunity to build memories that will last a lifetime.”

While the Haunted Depot offers plenty of spooky fun, Wright says the purpose of the event is to raise funds for the DDA in order to assist in making improvements throughout the community.

“We appreciate the support of our corporate sponsors,” Wright said. “Without their financial support, volunteer hours, and equipment, this event would not be the huge success it has become.”

The event’s corporate sponsors include Ringgold Telephone Company, First Volunteer Bank, and Graham Dental, and the extra activities outside the actual Haunted Depot include the ghost tours, hayride, bonfire, free face-painting for children, and free nightly live entertainment.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009.

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