A boat floats along a quiet, dark path. All that can be seen are lights strung in the trees and above the river. Bare tree trunks and branches are silhouetted against the azure night. Jack-o’-lanterns line both banks. The air is cool. It’s an October night — time for Halloween fun.
But gore, chainsaws and masked villains won’t be found at this event.
Family-founded CLAS Ropes Course has been running a Halloween cruise on the Provo River for the past 13 years, attracting nearly 8,000 visitors of all ages each October.
This is the second year Katie Tuivai, a mother of three, has attended the cruise.
“The kids really liked it,” she said. “It’s not too scary, and it’s inexpensive.”
Mari Groberg, a BYU student from Spanish Fork has worked for CLAS Ropes Course since May of last year. In addition to operating the ticket office, she also carves some of the 100 pumpkins that line the river. With a life of roughly five days, new pumpkins frequently need to be carved. And when employees get tired of doing the job toward the end of the month, other community members, like the Boy Scouts, hop in to help.
Some of the pumpkins are purposefully carved upside down so the reflection on the water’s surface shows the design right-side up. Other intricate designs include Frankenstein, a witch’s face profile and Medusa.
Like Katie Tuivai, Groberg feels the lack of blood and fright is what sets this Halloween activity apart from others.
“It is so different. They (other activities) are based on being scary and making you really uncomfortable,” she said. “If you go on (the Halloween cruise) wanting to be scared, you’ll be disappointed. But it is so fun to bring kids on it.”
Jason Bosen holds a unique position at the event. Wearing a black cape and thick gloves, he pulls the river boat with his hands, something he’s been doing for two years. Bosen entertains guests with the story of “Sleepy Hollow” as they glide up and down the river.
A pirate greets riders halfway through the ride. After his humorous attempts to board the boat via rope swing, the pirate rides up alongside the boat on a canoe. He tells pirate jokes. He hands out candy. He makes children laugh. Bosen said this is his favorite part of the ride.
“Some kids scream and cry until they realize it’s a friendly pirate, but it’s always really fun,” he said. “Especially the little boys who are into pirates, they love it.”
As the night concludes, parents and children step off the boat with caution and smiles. They are not anticipating nightmares about zombies or clowns or mysterious hooded persons. Instead, they are enjoying candy and all the decorations.
The cruise runs Monday through Thursday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It will be open through Halloween night. The price is $8 per person.