BY KATHY GIBBONS
KINGSLEY — Desirae Dine lives for this time of year.
Growing up in Kingsley, she was accustomed to her family transforming their yard into a haunted tableau at Halloween.
"It all started out with a few cardboard gravestones out front, a witch's cauldron with dry ice and a garage decorated like a witches den," she said. "I was very young at the time and I remember thinking, 'This is really cool.'"
Today, Dine, 34, is master of "Ghost Farm of Kingsley," which remains a family effort as it's open every Friday and Saturday this month. Now in its third year, the farm at 5010 Pierce Road is offering Haunted Walks after dark and lighter Halloween fare starting around 7 for the younger and faint of heart.
And there's altruism in the mayhem. A portion of the proceeds go to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton eighth grade to help defray the costs of a class trip to Washington, D.C.
The Dines have been doing Ghost Farm for three years now, creating a different story line each season and going for bigger and better special effects as they do. The scenario always revolves around a farmer. The first time, the farmer's crazy daughter took over the farm and terror ensued. The next year, the farmer was producing zombie chow and let's just say guests saw pretty quickly that the ingredients looked a lot like themselves.
Now the farmer is dealing with a curse under the harvest moon.
"It's kind of like a moving play, only you're moving through the play to figure out exactly how this curse happened on his family," Dine said.
Costumed actors, including family members — Dine has eight brothers and sisters — and some of those eighth graders, portray the characters. And Dine has continued to research and implement new special effects, which she declines to elaborate on because she doesn't want to give away the surprise.
When visitors arrive, there's storytelling around the campfire including local ghost stories told by Ellen Dine, Desirae's mother. One is about an ethereal woman Dine said many have seen walking on nearby Knight Road. Some motorists have reported believing they hit her, and have gone off the road to avoid running into her, she said.
Before dark, there are non-scary walks for children younger than third grade and others who are afraid of what the night holds at the Ghost Farm. The Dines are also serving up food and fall games.
The rest of the year, the farm goes back to growing vegetables and welcoming school groups for non-threatening tours.
"This is something I work on all year long," Dine said. "When I'm not farming, I'm working on the haunted walk."
Hours are from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Oct. 28. Tickets are $6 in advance from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton eighth-graders, or $8 at the gate. For more information, visit GhostFarm.net or call 645-1447.