Gwen Delfino worried that her husband, Mike, had taken things too far.
‚??She said, ‚??Mike, you‚??re going to scare everybody,‚??‚?Ě the 91-year-old said with a laugh Friday night during the opening of the Circle of Screams attraction at the Circle Drive-In Theater (1911 Scranton Carbondale Highway, Dickson City).
Mr. Delfino, the owner of the Circle Drive-In since 1963, hopes to leave more than a few patrons shaking in their boots with the opening of northeastern Pennsylvania‚??s newest haunt.
Circle of Screams features four attractions for the single admission price of $25 per person. The half-mile Hayride of Torture which picks up riders at the concession stand, the 3-D Carnival of Fear with eye-popping paintings, and the fog-filled Maze of Torment dot the grounds that the drive-in sits on. The Circle will also feature B-rated and popular horror movies on its screen ‚?? the largest of its kind in Pennsylvania.
So what possesses a 91-year-old to build a haunted attraction?
‚??When we went down to Lancaster, we were hooked,‚?Ě Mr. Delfino said, recalling a trip last year to the top rated Field of Screams that inspired his new project.
‚??We have all of the facilities here‚?Ľ This is what keeps you young, when you have something to do all of the time.‚?Ě
The Carbondale resident flashes the smile of a younger man when he talks about his decades-long operation in Dickson City, including the introduction of weekend flea markets in 1975.
‚??My wife (Gwen) and I and my nephew, we enjoy it very much. It‚??s quite an adventure. I think this is going to be one of the biggest things in Lackawanna County before it‚??s over with,‚?Ě he said of the new venture.
That dynamic spirit is what helped foster a friendship and business partnership between Mr. Delfino and Dave Castelli, 53, of Peckville, over the last several years. Castelli was the former owner of the Endless Mountains Theater on Route 6 in Dickson City.
‚??We used to do a lot of this kind of crazy stuff‚?Ľ I love the showmanship of this. When I ran the theater, we did ‚??Rocky Horror Picture Show‚?? and we had Spider-Man on the roof. When we showed ‚??Snakes on a Plane,‚?? I threw rubber snakes out of the projector room windows,‚?Ě he recalled.
Castelli, who called himself Mr. Delfino‚??s manager, strolled the grounds of the drive-in Friday night just ahead of its 6 p.m. opening.
‚??It‚??s going to be kind of casual for the first night,‚?Ě he told some of the nearly 30 seasonal employees gathered as he was dressed in a black polo with matching suit jacket, blue jeans, and black dress shoes.
He, too, flashed a devilish grin when talking about coming attractions for this year, which may include a Headless Horseman riding between events and a zombie horde emerging from the woods behind the drive-in movie screen.
Some of Circle of Scream‚??s features aren‚??t for everyone, though ‚?? including some of its own employees. Jessup resident Brittney Mecca, 17, said she‚??s steering clear of the Carnival of Fear after reading Stephen King‚??s ‚??It‚?Ě in the seventh grade, which featured the titular character often posing as a clown, but she wouldn‚??t miss the chance to be strung up as a scarecrow along the hayride.
‚??I always loved going to these things as a kid,‚?Ě she recalled.
Joseph Booths, 21, of Carbondale, said the actors that scared him as a kid give him a lot to live up to.
‚??It gave me a good rush every time,‚?Ě Booths recalled while wearing his toxically transformed junkyard murderer costume.
Throop resident Keith Langan, 42, was ready to fire up his chainsaw along the haunted hayride, but it certainly wasn‚??t his first time spooking others.
‚??I‚??ve been scaring people for years,‚?Ě he said. ‚??My brother-in-law and I do this for Halloween. We sit on his porch, dressed up, and we scare people. I also had several years experience doing this in Throop when they had their civic center.‚?Ě
That infectious, jump-out-of-your-skin fun will be shared with willing participants from 6 to 11 p.m., Friday to Sunday through Nov. 4, with additional hours on Halloween, Wednesday, Oct. 31.
For details, visit circleofscreams.com or call 570.489.5731.