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End of an era

Staff Writer | August 13, 2020 1:06 AM

Rathdrum’s Tunnel of Terror closed forever

After 18 years of North Idaho Halloween tradition, Rathdrum’s Tunnel of Terror is closing for good.

Initially postponing the event until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, creators Ed and Ruth Maryott decided it was time for the Tunnel of Terror to retire. After considering Ed’s medical condition and their age, Ed 81 and Ruth 73, the couple knew it would be much harder to restart the tunnel next year.

“I’m not feeling real good about it, I’ll tell you that,” Ruth Maryott said. “This tunnel was a very integral part of our life so making this decision was difficult.”

Originally starting the tunnel for their grandchildren, Ed and Ruth Maryott said they wanted to make something more fun than the average party. Setting up their makeshift 32-foot tunnel using bent PVC pipe, hay and black tarps they stumbled upon something bigger. When the next year came around and their grandkids begged for another tunnel, the Maryotts decided to make it even bigger.

“My husband had the idea for the stacking our big hay bales and putting plastic over the top to make it taller, that way we could decorate scenes and make it more enjoyable,” Maryott said. “That year it was 100-feet long and wrapped around our property.”

From 100 feet it grew every year to the point where the tunnel became too long for the Maryott lawn. Moving the event up to their pasture, the Maryotts created a 700-foot tunnel of Halloween fun.

“A lot of our friends came and they’d dress up in costumes to go in and scare people,” Maryott said. “As it grew we needed more and more people to get in there and do the scaring.”

That’s when a member of the Lakeland High School theater class approached the couple and asked if they had thought about student volunteers. According to Maryott, about 135 Lakeland students helped by dressing up in costume for the tunnel. This was a huge help to the Maryotts, who grew from a one-weekend event to the entire month of October.

To give back to the Lakeland students, the Maryotts set up a donation booth at the end of the tunnel for the drama department. The first year they raised $400, last year they hit $1,125.

Continuing their giving spirit, last year the Maryotts set up a canned food drive fundraiser. On the opening weekend last year, Ed and Ruth allowed tunnel customers to bring in four articles of food and $1 as an entry fee. According to Maryott, the tunnel brought in 697 pounds of food for the local food bank.

“A lot of what we did, we did for the community. We enjoyed it, we really loved it,” Maryott said. “I think that’s what I’m going to miss the most.”

Still holding out hope, the Maryotts are selling their prop supplies in a yard sale in the middle of September for anyone who wants to build their own Halloween magic.

“I kept hoping that our own two kids were interested in taking over the Tunnel of Terror and doing it themselves,” Maryott said. “I hope somebody takes it over and says ‘give me some ideas, I want to do it.’”

Most of all, the Maryotts want to thank their community, family and friends for the help they gave in building the scenes and dressing up in the tunnel.

“I just want to thank everybody for the kind words they’ve said and supporting us. We know a lot of people are going to be just as heartbroken as we are,” Maryott said. “I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”