RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — The animatronic clowns, rubber snakes and bloody hands hanging in Greg and Nancy Stewart's haunted loops-and-trap maze on Sheridan Avenue can spook even the manliest men.
And that's part of the fun.
"You can really be silly, over the top and have fun on Halloween," said Nancy Stewart, watching from her deck as middle-schoolers tear through the maze. "We have a good time."
The Stewarts created the maze after their then-4-year-old son, Tyler, asked for an obstacle course in 1995. The idea stuck and even influenced the Stewart's search for a new Ridgewood home in 1999.
"We wanted a house with a trick-or-treat approach," Nancy Stewart said, "and a backyard big enough for the maze."
"I like that we're bringing an old-fashioned idea to Ridgewood," said Greg Stewart, who dresses up as a clown and chases people around when he's not watching from his deck. "People can just come in and have fun and let it become part of their traditions."
All of the wrong traps lead back to the main entrance -- "otherwise you'd have to throw meat in every few days to keep people alive," Greg said.
Three 10-year-old girls dressed in ballet tights and Nike sneakers popped over for their fourth visit this season before heading to dance class. After figuring out the new design in under 20 minutes, the girls said they were confident they could do it with their eyes closed.
The Stewarts often send neighborhood children in as "sherpas" to rescue adults who get stuck.
“Essentially it’s an impossible maze,” said Alex Botwinick, 26, who came back out the entrance after 20 fruitless minutes.
Adults have had panic attacks, crawled out from underneath and wet their pants, Greg Stewart said.
"At least 1/3 of people make it out alive," he said, jokingly.
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