Columnists visit the local Bear Scare and discuss the fear factor.   


The Bear Scare is a commonly attended event for Upper Arlington students during fall. It began in 1977, originally as a haunted house. The Bear Scare changed as time went on, and it was reopened in 2012 at Smith Nature Park here in Upper Arlington. This year’s haunted forest had a wait time that was at least an hour-long, and there were food trucks on-site for hungry guests waiting in line. It was certainly a popular event with children of all ages, some accompanied by their parents, waiting in the line to tour the forest filled with monsters, demons, mummies and witches. We decided to visit the Bear Scare to investigate just how haunted the haunted forest really is.

The wind was blowing and it was not too cold; we visited the Bear Scare on the perfect fall night. While the line was long, it offered a chance to see familiar faces and catch up with some friends while waiting. Immediately when we entered the haunted forest, we saw fog, making it a little extra scary. As we continued through, we first encountered a man, Old Man Smith, who moved a chainsaw closer and closer to our legs. It was a great way to start the forest off. He gave a nod to the backstory of the Bear Scare: the legend tells it was originally Old Man Smith’s land until two men, Ben and King Thompson, arrived in Upper Arlington and founded it. As we passed Old Man Smith and continued through the haunted forest, we came across a group of witches, greeting us with large smiles and cackles. Some of the witches were even surrounding a cauldron filled with a bright, green liquid. After the witches, we reached a bridge with the infamous chained-up monster, Mongo. Mongo is a well-known monster for many people who visit the Bear Scare, and this time, Mongo did not disappoint. As we continued through the forest, we reached an area known as Zombie Hill, a staircase infested with red-eyed zombies that followed us through the area. The scariest part of Zombie Hill was the anticipation its monsters created. Oftentimes, it was difficult to know whether the zombies were going to follow the visitors or whether they were going to follow the visitors as well as leave them shaking after a jump scare. We were relieved when we reached the end of the forest; however, we wished we could have gone back through. Our favorite parts of the forest were the cackling witches and Mongo on the bridge.

The Bear Scare was the perfect event to attend to get in the Halloween spirit. The volunteers did an amazing job putting together the haunted forest so that it was perfect for kids of all ages to enjoy. While the line was long, a planned time of arrival and chatting with a few friends made the wait go by quickly. The creatures did an amazing job of staying in character, and the props were greatly thought-out and detailed. We will definitely be attending the Bear Scare next year to visit a few of the monsters we met and to get scared yet again.