The Annual Haunted Train Ride and Ghoul Bus is a Norfolk tradition. This popular event is a true community event with all proceeds going back to worthy Norfolk causes.
During one magical night, guests experience the chills and thrills of the train ride through the haunted woods and the Ghoul Bus. Through the generosity of the Holmes Family, and staffed by over 100 adult volunteers from NCL and Norfolk Lions and over 100 teen volunteers from local high schools, it is entering its 18th year. Venues are manned by community groups from Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Norfolk Fire and Police, local businesses, Halloween enthusiasts, NCL, and Lions. Many venues have participated for over 10 years. Proceeds have benefitted every aspect of Norfolk life – schools, sports organizations, senior center, public safety, The Grange, Stony Brook, and Norfolk Library. A food drive annually stocks the Norfolk Food Pantry. Over the years, this event has raised almost $200,000 to give back to Norfolk causes.
2018 Tickets Sales This year we sold out 1700 tickets in little over an hour. We were surprised and amazed by the demand for the tickets. We understand the frustration for those that did not get tickets. Ticket sales historically have ranged from one day to four days. We cannot predict the level of demand prior to the start of the sale. While we schedule for three days, all flyers and postings have the caveat that sales continue until we sell out. As a committee, we spend a considerable amount of time and effort discussing the mechanics of ticket sales. Ticket sales have been adjusted over the years to accommodate the increased popularity of the event. While we started collecting at the door, we’ve moved to advanced ticket sales to avoid turning people away at the gate. We’ve adjusted the time of the sales to evening hours for working families. We’ve kept the price low to allow families to have an affordable evening out. We’ve increased the number of tickets until we have reached our capacity for safety. We’ve explored online sales in the past but the fees involved did not make sense for this fundraiser. We have not imposed a ticket limit as we know that many families pool resources and ask friends to pick up their tickets due to their schedules. We have not expanded the advertising for this event beyond the local papers and Norfolk Public schools since we started. Limiting tickets to only Norfolk residents could be seen as discriminatory and it would add another level of administration. We use physical tickets for operational purposes- we collect data as to the number of guests throughout the event to help plan for volunteer needs and parking lot resources. We make adjustments each year to try to refine the process and will continue to add improvements to make it the best and fairest experience possible. It is important to note that despite the many improvements we’ve made to the process, the reality is that we are limited to selling 1700 tickets to ensure the safety of all of the guests and volunteers. The demand for these tickets has exceeded our capacity and, unfortunately, not everyone that wants a ticket will be able to obtain one. We strive to be as fair as we can with the sale process so that everyone has a fair chance. We want to share these facts about the most recent sale:
We changed the time of the sale to 5pm to accommodate working families.
Only 1 family bought more than 30 tickets and no one bought more than 40. (Many families ask friends to pick up their tickets so it not unusual for someone to buy 20+ tickets.)
Of the 70 checks deposited from families purchasing tickets, only 9 were out of town.
Since starting the HTR 18 years ago, Norfolk has added 1800+ residents. Additionally, 18 years of riders adds up to a lot of people that may have moved to another town but continue to come each year.
60 out of 100 teen volunteers are not from Norfolk. We cannot run this event without their help. Many of their families purchase tickets and ride the train.
The train is owned and run by a local family who generously allows NCL and Lions to use their property for the weekend. Running this event for multiple nights is not feasible due to the running of their business and the need for additional sets of volunteers. Many volunteers work over entire weekend for this event.
The volunteers haunting a venue entertain each and every train for 4+ hours through all kinds of weather. Trains go by every 6 minutes. It is fun but exhausting. We cannot extend the time commitment that includes creating the scene, costumes, acting, and cleaning up the scene the next day.
Three of the venue spots are manned by a family that has volunteered for the past 10 years and does not live in Norfolk.
Many grandparents and others that do not have children in the Norfolk school system buy tickets.
We are limited in the number of tickets that we can sell due to parking capacity and rider capacity. To create a positive experience we don’t want to have guests waiting any longer in line. We also plan for the occasions when the antique trains might not work.
Every year we have trouble getting enough adult volunteers. We need the right number to maintain the safety of the event.
It is a Lion’s tradition that other local clubs support Lion’s efforts. Lions from other towns purchase tickets for this event. They stand in line like everyone else.
We appreciate your passion for the Haunted Train Ride and Ghoul Bus. We share that passion and work almost year round to put this amazing and beloved event together. We listen to your suggestions and want to encourage positive dialogue with the goal of improving the event. Feel free to email your suggestions to us.
NCL and Norfolk Lions are committed to improving the quality of life for Norfolk and creating community events like the Haunted Train Ride and Ghoul Bus. The Haunted Train Ride and Ghoul Bus Committee Email: firstname.lastname@example.org