Woods of Terror a Halloween Tradition

Every Halloween season for the past twenty-four years, Piedmont North Carolina has been haunted by a very tall, very scary looking man with half his face painted like a skeleton, sporting spiked red hair, and with a giant snake draped over his shoulders. He is affectionately known as Bone

Daddy, and you’ve no doubt seen his image on billboards and in countless newspaper ads. However, if you’re very brave, you can see him and hundreds of his fellow monsters in person at Woods of Terror on Church Street, now through November 8. Earlier this month I spent some time with Bone Daddy’s alter ego when Eddie McLaurin visited Triad Today.

JL: You look scary in your monster costume, but you look normal here in the studio.

EM: I have two sides, the business side and the scary side.

JL: So you’re bilingual as Barney Fife might say.

EM: (laughs)

JL: What’s the first Halloween costume you ever remember wearing?

EM: I dressed up as The Crow, from the movie starring Bruce Lee’s son Brandon.

JL: Who or what led you to create Woods of Terror twenty-four years ago?

EM: I visited a couple of friends of mine at a haunted house that they were working at, and one of the guys said, “I thought I’d be making more money.” And I said, “Well let’s open one up ourselves and I’ll pay you more.” And that’s where it started.

JL: How many people or “monsters” do you typically employ during Halloween season?

EM: We run a staff of about 175 people, and a hundred of those are actors.

JL: Woods of Terror must have a tremendous impact on the local economy along Church Street.

EM: Yeah we do. The local store owners say their business goes up 35% when we’re open.

Abbey Morgan, general manager of Uptown Charlie’s restaurant confirms McLaurin’s assessment, saying, “When Woods of Terror is open, we see customers come in before and after they go to the attraction, and we have our staff work longer shifts to cover for more customers.”

But McLaurin’s business also has an impact on local charities, like the Cone Health Cancer Center.

JL: I understand you’re hosting a special fund raiser to fight breast cancer?

EM: My mother-in-law had breast cancer, so ten years ago I came up with “Terror for Ta-Tas.” The event takes place every October which happens to be breast cancer awareness month, as well as Halloween season. This year’s “Terror for Ta-Tas” is October 10, and part of the proceeds will go to Cone’s Cancer Center and their “Finding Your New Normal” program. It’s a great way for the community to have some fun at Woods of Terror, and support the Cancer Center at the same time.

“Finding Your New Normal” is an eight week program that includes a variety of activities for women, including exercises, group discussions, and guest speakers. Some of the topics covered include: Spirituality and Self Care; Emotional Health; Nutrition; and Sexual Health and Relationships. “Terror for Ta-Tas” helps us educate women of all ages about breast health, early detection, and treatment,” said Lisa Morrison, Cone’s breast cancer coordinator. “Woods of Terror especially helps us reach teenage girls and young women, and the event also raises much needed funds to keep this program going.”

JL: Eddie, you seem very committed to your work and to helping others.

Who was the biggest influence in your life?

EM: Probably my grandparents because of their honesty and integrity, and the things they instilled in me. My Dad also taught me a lot about hard work. If I hadn’t been taught those things, Woods of Terror wouldn’t be open. It’s a big challenge to keep this place open, it’s a lot of work, and it’s a year-round process.

JL: Is there anyone who shouldn’t come to Woods of Terror?

EM: If you’re on crutches with a broken leg, or if you have a heart condition, then don’t come. Also, Woods of Terror is PG 13, so if your kids are too young to watch horror films, they’re not going to like our place. We’re really there for adults and for teenagers 13 and up. They’ll have a great time.

JL: I think I’m too young.

EM: I think you’ll do alright.

Woods of Terror, located at 5601 North Church Street in Greensboro, is open every weekend in October and some weekdays closer to Halloween. Check their website, for dates, show times and ticket information. !

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).