As the spirit of Halloween shifts into the spirit of Thanksgiving, James and Teresa Stoker, owners of the Haunted River attraction, transform that spooky Halloween site into a magical Christmas trail. Their business venture with these river attractions started in 2019 when James decided to become self-employed. That’s when he hosted the Haunted River on his own property for the first time.
“There’s always been something on this property that’s really special, like I’ve always felt it. There’s a special feeling out there, the spirit, whatever you want to call it, but just ideas kind of have come to me in increments over time…Looking back, clearly those thoughts and impressions lead to what we’ve created today,” James said.
However, during its maiden season, the Haunted River did not receive the turnout the Stokers were expecting. With a son in the hospital and the opening weeks averaging bitter cold temperatures, James decided to host the Christmas River in hopes of making up for the lost income.
“We didn’t have the turnout that we were projecting, so therefore I’m like ‘We’ve got to do Christmas because we need to have some kind of profit.’ The Lord really was involved, and He’s been involved since day one,” James said.
Although the take down and set up for these attractions is labor intensive, James recognizes that the structures like the bridge and the small buildings made from reclaimed lumber give an authentic feel that’s fitting for both a spooky Halloween town and a weathered Christmas village.
“Basically, we take down all of the Halloween props, put up the Christmas lights, and pray that we’ll have snow for opening weekend,” James said.
The Christmas River will be open Dec. 10 - 23, excluding Sundays. Tickets can be purchased in person for $8 per individual and $25–$30 per family. For more information, please visit the Christmas River website.