TOWNSEND -- Armed with more than a half dozen cans of spray paint, Kyle Henderson, 19, of Wakefield, N.H., scrawled image after image of graffiti on a brick exterior wall behind the Hoffman family's house.
But the sight was not all it seemed.
Henderson, a graffiti artist, was enlisted to tag the wall per request of family friend and Recreation Director Emy Hoff. The wall is to be part of the scenery in the third annual Haunted Trail. The event is to be held on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. on the fire access road behind Hawthorne Brook Middle School and is put on by the Recreation Department.
Generally Henderson specializes in graffiti merchandise such as T-shirts and skateboards. He got into graffiti art through his upbringing in a Lynn neighborhood that was constantly plagued by gang activity.
"It was so bad at times I couldn't leave my house," he said. "(Merchandizing the graffiti) was a way for me to turn a negative into a positive."
Hoff, Henderson and Gregg Hoffman met at Hoffman's parents' house to complete the art; Hoffman, who went to college to study special effects, is one of the lead engineers of the Haunted Trail.
"We try to change the theme every year so it doesn't get stagnant the way other haunted houses can," he said.
The first year was a carnival theme, complete with terrifying sideshow attractions. Last year, the department put on an homage to the history of monsters.
"This year, we've kind of gone for a more psychological thrill. We're doing an insanatorium," said Hoffman.
Hoffman helped create the back story: Two doctors at a mental institution realized that more patients were coming in than going out. So they brought in a specialist to determine the cause. But before he could publish his results, he mysteriously vanished.
"We don't want to give too much away," said Hoffman.
The story is tied into the location at Hawthorne Brook: the doctors are named Dr. George Hawthorne, Dr. Cyrus Brook and Dr. Henry Townsend.
Hoffman said it was his own childhood fears that led him into his career in creating monsters.
"When I grew up as a kid, I was always scared by horror movies. As you're growing up, people always tell you to face your fears," he said. "When you know how it's done, it doesn't make the horror movie as scary."
Despite the progress, the Recreation Department is still in need of help; they are looking to double the amount of volunteers they currently have for the trail.
"We need about 40. We only have about 20. We still need 20 people in order to pull this off the make it spectacular," said Hoff.
Volunteers are needed for everything from set-up and cleanup to acting roles and guides on the trail. The department is also hoping to have a table for selling glow sticks and face painting. Anyone aged 12 and up is encouraged to volunteer; adults will be required to have a CORI background check.
The standard entry cost to the Haunted Trail is $7, but those who come with a can of food get $2 off the price. The cans will then be donated to Townsend Ecumenical Outreach. The Recreation Department is self-funded, so the fee goes toward the cost of building the trail.
But, said Hoff, "We do want to give back to the town as well."