ANTHONY, N.M. — Every fall when the sweltering nights begin to chill and the Halloween season draws near, La Union Maze prepares to give visitors a fun time and sometimes the frightening experience of losing themselves in a vast labyrinth.
“It started out very small,” said Lucy Sondgeroth, manager of the maze. “Our first season we probably had a traffic of about 5,000 people [total]. Now we do that in a weekend.”
The area stretches across 33 acres of land and includes the maze, which stands up to 14 feet tall. There is also a pumpkin patch, an eating area where people can enjoy roasted corn, a kid’s slide, and a petting zoo with rabbits, goats, and miniature cows. Last year the maze welcomed some 35,000 visitors from surrounding communities in just a little over a month.
“Every year it just keeps growing and growing. And now, it’s not fall time for people if they don’t come do the maze,” Sondgeroth said.
What started out as a small idea 10 years ago has now become a tradition for the maze staff and its visitors.
“It’s become part of our lives. Six months out of the year we’re working on it and the other six we’re thinking about it,” said Sondgeroth.
Each year the maze is given a theme to celebrate something going on in the community. In previous years the maze had celebrated different landmarks of El Paso and Las Cruces and UTEP’s celebration of the 1966 NCAA championship.
The maze this season takes themes from past years and is themed to celebrate the 10-year anniversary.
With each season new and returning visitors make their way to experience the maze, many of them going at night.
“Getting lost in the maze in the dark is part of the fun,” Eric Rios said just after going through the maze. “You really can’t see where you’re going and that makes it a little scary.”
Employee Katrina McGarrah, who informs people of the maze guidelines, said some visitors often walk through the maze just to scare others.
“They’re not our employees so you know there’s somebody out there [scaring]other people,” McGarrah said. “But that’s why people come at night, to basically just get lost, get scared, and have fun.”