Mama Madison: Fear for a good cause

Scary fun made meaningful at Madison's first in-town corn maze

Today the folks at Groupon sent yet me yet another unbeatable deal for something I don't really want. This morning's 10:08 a.m. opportunity was 58% off a Haunted House visit in Stoughton. This particular fright fest promised "blood spattered surgeons" awaiting the chance to perform violent procedures, a new attraction called the Slaughter House and a "harlequin-haunted" Psycho Circus, "populated by clowns with tortuous intent."

Um, thanks, but no thanks. I'm not really down with this deal. As far as I'm concerned there is very little scarier than psycho clowns. Except for maybe sane clowns -- the "psycho" descriptor kind of helps explain the rubber noses and garish eye make up. No, Groupon, you couldn't pay me 58% more than the full ticket price to step foot in this place -- not even on the "meandering path through a mysterious cornfield."

Because yes, corn mazes also terrify me. Just about as much as clowns do. I guess I'm just a city gal at heart. And one of the last things I want to do on a cool, autumn evening is lose my bearings among 10-foot stalks of my least favorite grain. I'm pretty sure in Greek mythology the original Labyrinth was constructed to hold a ghastly half-man, half-beast, the Minotaur. But he could at least comfortably eat his way out of a life-size corn puzzle.

Didn't you all hear about the family from Danvers, Massachusetts that had to call 9-11 to be rescued from one of these agricultural instruments of torture last fall? It wouldn't take much for that to be me. I'd probably get lost just trying to get to Stoughton though, so perhaps this rant is moot.

And I guess I do understand the appeal of the corn maze for many -- especially the Third Annual A-Maizing Charity Corn Maze on the city's west side. Besides being the first corn maze ever erected within the Madison city limits, this attraction does something very important. It raises money for the thousands of Wisconsin families who are forced every winter to make the painstaking choice between having enough to eat and heating their homes.

The Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, which receives 95 cents of every dollar spent at the A-Maizing Charity Corn Maze, is a public, private partnership that provides preventative services and financial assistance to those with potentially life-threatening energy-related emergencies. And 95% of those helped by the KWWCF are elderly, disabled or families with young children.

So maybe this "scary season" I'll plan to venture out of my comfort zone. I'm sure -- perhaps with the help of GPS -- I'll likely make it out this corn maze alive.

I guess I really have nothing at all to be afraid of, after all.

Because once the thrills and disorientation are over, my family will be one of the fortunate ones. We will head home to a house that is comfortably warm.

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