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The group behind Knott's Scary Farm's signature sliding scare tactic




Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of
Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of "sliders" who brought about the style of scaring that's used at Knott's Scary Farm.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of
Ruth Duckworth takes a break during a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Duckworth has been sliding for three years and made the team earlier this year.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of
Team Member Elijah Padilla takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. This is Padilla's second year in the group.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of
Ruth Duckworth stretches before a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Duckworth is one of three women on the team.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of
Team members put on their gear before a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Some team members bring equipment cases to practice holding knee pads, gloves and steel-toe shoes.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of
Ruth Duckworth, left, Josh Partee and Elijah Padilla take part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Many team members put skateboard wax on their knee sliders to glide more smoothly.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of
Ruth Duckworth, left, and Chase McCullough take part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. The group is based out of Knott's Scary Farm and also performs in other Halloween events like ScareLA and Queen Mary's Dark Harbor.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Team Member Stephen Pedersen takes part in a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Decayed Brigade is a group of
Stephen Pedersen of Decayed Brigade glues steel toes onto athletic shoes as part of his sliding equipment.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC


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Imagine you're walking through Knott's Scary Farm. It's nighttime, and you're in Ghost Town.

A werewolf growls at you. A zombie staggers past.

But then...out of nowhere, you hear a whoosh and a crack, and a creepy clown skids across your path.

It's gone before you're even done screaming.

Decayed_Brigade

This method of scaring is called sliding, and it has become a trademark of Knott's Scary Farm and other Halloween events.

The Decayed Brigade is the group that came up with the technique. Producer Lori Galarreta joined them for one of their practices leading up to the big Halloween weekend.

Members Stephen Pedersen, Chase McCullough and Eric Saunders spoke about the inception of the scare tactic, the gear required for it and the importance of safety.

The origins of sliding

Chase: "Sliding started back at Knott's Scary Farm, back in the late 80's, by monsters just fooling around in Ghost Town and then eventually from there just started evolving into gear. Some people used catcher's gear, catcher's shin guards to slide on. Some people used duct tape all over them and eventually would harden to the point it became plastic and that's what they would use on their gloves, until somebody came out and found out wire conduit works the best."

Decayed Brigade at ScareLA

Gear

Chase: "The gloves themselves were pretty much any work gloves, a lot of us use motorcycle gloves. Take a piece of metal off of wire conduit out of the electrical department, glue it onto your fingertips, what we use on our fingertips for the noise and then our palms some people use flat plated washers or dance tap shoes which make a loud noise.

Down to our knee pads, you're probably looking at any ramp pads for halfpipe skating. Any type of tennis shoe will work. We actually take the steel of the steel toe boot, rip it out and actually glue it on top of the toes of that shoe, so that's when you slide everything is either plastic or metal that's touching the ground, that's what makes you go the distance."

Team Member Ruth Duckworth puts on sliding gloves before a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Much of the group's equipment is DIY – many team members adhere heel taps to gloves for sliding.
Team Member Ruth Duckworth puts on sliding gloves before a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016. Much of the group's equipment is DIY – many team members adhere heel taps to gloves for sliding.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Sliding and safety

Stephen: "A lot of people have the conception that sliding is very simple. Working Halloween events you have guests who come in and they'll say 'Oh, I can do that. Oh, cool bro. Oh, you're throwing yourself on the ground.' And yeah, to an extent that's what we're doing. When you're sliding in an amusement park full of 30,000 plus people, there's not a lot of room, so it's important to be on top of your game. You should be able to stop, you should be able to change direction, you should be able to stop with both feet.

...When we're doing some of these stunts, they may seem trivial. They may seem silly. We're just running around throwing ourselves on the ground, but some of them can be very dangerous. To do something like this with somebody you don't completely trust with this activity makes it that much more dangerous, so everybody who becomes a part of this is vetted very carefully..."

"We are group!"

Eric: "After a few years of Decayed Brigade, we started developing more social media and one of those was an Instagram and after posting pictures, this one lady commented on one of the pictures and completely messed up her sentence and she's like 'Oh, I love the Decayed Brigade. They are group!'

We just totally completely embraced it and we were like 'Guys! We are group!' It went from an inside joke, to a chant to now like a thing that's kind of turned into a tradition."

Ruth Duckworth, Eric Saunders and Chase McCullough lay on the ground for another team member to leap over them during a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016.
Ruth Duckworth, Eric Saunders and Chase McCullough lay on the ground for another team member to leap over them during a practice for Decayed Brigade at Chapman Sports Park in Garden Grove on Monday evening, Oct. 24, 2016.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

 

Chase: "We all come from different kind of haunt backgrounds and sliding backgrounds to the point where we're not just higher than anybody. We're all together. We're not...'this is his team, that's his team.' No, it's all of our team. So it kind of helped out when we started chanting the ritual of 'we are group' before we go out and do our shows, we all unite together, we all become family. And that's what Decayed Brigade is all about, is family."

Click the blue audio player above to hear the full interview.