It must have been about September of 1997, my then wife and I were watching TV one evening when a news story surfaced about some group of crazies that promised to place razor blades in Halloween Candy that year in our local area…. Which, by the way, happened to be the sleepy little village of Anaheim, in the shadows of the great “Mouse-House”… But i digress.
So we gathered the kids around, the three older girls and baby Mariah drooling in my lap… and explained that there would be no trick or treating this year, it was too dangerous, and we’d find something else “fun” to do on the holiday.
There were tears. A whole lot of tears. It was then that I opened my mouth and uttered the words I would regret for another $30,000.00… “How about if we build a haunted house?” Tears became hushed sobs…. “and we’ll have a huge party!”… Eyebrows raised…. “And we can invite all your friends!” Cheers….. And that, dear friends is how one of the biggest home grown haunted attractions was conceived.
I immediately went to work. I told the kids we’d be doing peeled grape eyeballs, spaghetti brains, the old fashioned haunted houses I was used to as a kid. The girls just rolled their eyes and said, “Dad, you’ve gotta step it up a notch. That’s dumb.” So I did. I went right out and bought a fog machine, some black lights, costumes, some Halloween props and decorations, and got serious.
Over the next couple of months after I got home form work I’d lock myself up in the garage and go at it. I hung black plastic tarp as walls, made a pretty scary soundtrack, moved a couple of stereos out there, and by the week of Halloween, I’d made a pretty scary home haunt.
When the big night came, it all fell into place. I hung black tarp around the front of the open garage door, which created a wall that I then ribbon cut for an entrance and exit. We had tables set up in the driveway for the party guests, all kinds of treats and eats, scary music, and strobe lights.
We had a blast. The girls – well two of them anyway, Julie dressed as Dracula and popped out of a coffin inside, Teresa was a witch, my wife was a ghoul, and her friend had monster hands that would reach out from the dark and grab at people. It was scary. I, dear readers, spent the whole night putting the tarp walls back into place as everyone who went through got super scared and tore the walls down trying to get out. The low point of the night was when one of the neighborhood kids was so scared by Julie’s Dracula, he punched her square in the jaw.
All in all, a super fun night, a one off, and a memory that my kids would remember for many years… And that was the end, right? Well you will have to keep reading to find out.