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Sheriff offers Haunted Jail Trail as Halloween treat

Event serving as fundraiser for 3 local organizations

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SHARPES, Fla. – Forget Halloween Horror Nights, what the Brevard County Sheriff's Office has in store this weekend may be just as freaky -- and a fraction of the price.

On a path nestled just behind the Brevard Juvenile Detention Center in Sharpes, sheriff's deputies have prepared what they're calling the Haunted Jail Trail. Enter if you dare, they say, because it's designed to spook even the macho-est of men.

News 6 partner Florida Today reported that the event runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and the cost is $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit the Field of Dreams, Veterans Memorial Center and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

Imagine it as Halloween Horror Nights, but Brevard's version is set in an area that would be scary even on a normal night. The trail begins past a locked gate with spiraling barbed wire and a view of the Brevard County Jail in the background. It's desolate, and the sound of locusts fills the air.

"It gets really dark out here," said Agent Chris Suaro, as he drove through the trail on a utility vehicle. "Really dark."

Add in chain saws, spooks, fog and screams, and the scares become even more intense.

Suaro pointed out work being done to prepare "scare zones" where demented clowns, goblins and ghouls will pop out from behind structures ordinarily in place for the sheriff office's annual Jail Break Mud Run. Yes, even clowns, he said with a laugh, noticing the irony of the "creepy clown" issue across the nation.

"This is the first year of the Haunted Jail Trail and it was an idea that was brought to my attention by a few of my staff members," said Lindsey Deaton, organizer of the event and community relations coordinator for the sheriff's office. "I thought it was a great concept that would provide a fun and safe environment and we are excited to bring it to the community."

Guests will need to park across the street from the jail in a grassy lot, where they will be transported by bus to the trail head. Food trucks will be set up outside the trail as well, said Deaton. Close-toed shoes and bug spray are musts for the course, which is a little over a mile long.

Sheriff deputies alongside Brevard County inmates have been working on the trail since October 15. Wednesday afternoon the group was clearing branches, hanging decor and setting up the scare zones. The trail will open Thursday night for an employee preview, so workers were hustling to finish. Suaro noted the trail was flooded after Hurricane Matthew, which initially put a damper on their plans. The trail has since dried up and is about ready to go.

Although inmates were enlisted to help with set up, they will not be participating in the actual event, said Deaton. Deputies and volunteers will dress up as the scare actors.

Pregnant women, infants or children who need to  be carried will not be permitted on the trail, and the course is not recommended for those under the age of 12. Attendees should also be aware strobe lights, fog and "high impact" scares will be present, according to the event's website. Enter at your own risk, the site states, and "watch your back, you'll never know which way the terror will hit you."

Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the gate. Online tickets are available at eventbrite.com/e/haunted-jail-trail-2016-tickets-27151678401.