There is an old tree on the Pegasus Riding Academy property that was used as the location for a scene in "Forrest Gump" between Forrest and Jenni as children where his love for her first takes root. It is a precious moment in the film, but according to Pegasus Riding Academy "legend," there is a darker side to the famous spot.
Stories about doomed couples, mysterious fog, and lost souls who haunt the tree make the location a perfect spot for a Halloween haunted hayride and trail.
Since it was filmed over twenty years ago, the tree has developed a weathered, ghostly appearance that lends itself well to scary stories.
"Unfortunately—it’s a big, giant live oak—because there is a marsh coming in, it has lost its leaves, so it looks kind of spooky," said Peggi Noon, founder and director of Pegasus Riding Academy.
Noon founded Pegasus Riding Academy in 2014 to provide therapeutic horseback riding for children with special needs. The academy used to be located at Wicklow Farms, but moved to the historic Old Roberd Dairy Farm several years ago.
"We just started with a very few kids," said Noon. "I’d say I had three riders at that firsts session, but by the following spring, we were doing pretty good.
"If you just come stand by the rail for about three minutes and watch our children ride, or watch me take a child out of a wheelchair and then he sits up straight and rides a horse for 45 minutes, you won’t believe. I don't get the credit — the volunteers and the horses — I’m just the facilitator. It’s miraculous stuff. We’re blessed that we own this property, and that we made it through the shutdown, and we’re able to function and provide services for our special needs children."
From Monday through Thursday, Pegasus Riding Academy will host nightly haunted hayrides and a walking trail with proceeds benefiting the academy.
The event promises to be done in a COVID safe manner and reservations and masks are required. Because there is some walking involved, Noon recommends the Haunted Trail to children 8 and up.
Students from Savannah Arts Academy are providing the scares, although, besides their frightening performances, the marsh already produces much of the creepy atmosphere.
"Actually, the trail itself lends itself well to what we’re working on," explained Richard Lundin, Theatre Program Director at Savannah Arts Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. "We haven’t actually had to make any major build type stuff"
Instead, Lundin and his students will be bringing a "techie edge" to the trail this year, with evocative lighting casting scary shadows through the trees and Spanish moss, and spooky sound designed to send chills up your spine.
"Nobody else has a piece of property like this," said Noon. "I think we’re so spirit filled because we back up to Bonaventure Cemetery."
If the SAA students don’t scare you enough, maybe there will be some supernatural spillage from the nearby cemetery.
"We would be okay with that," said Lundin.