If you go to the Witch’s Haunted House this Halloween night, you won’t spend a cent. But that doesn’t mean you won’t pay.
“There is a cost,” Will Jones said as he knelt near a gravestone in his yard. “It’s their screams.”
He and his wife Mindy have set up some kind of haunted experience in their home at the corner of Glacier Avenue and 10th Street for the past 14 years. Mindy said they’re just huge Halloween fans, and wanted to do a little something extra for the holiday.
It started as a haunted porch. Then it moved to the basement and grew. Those who have been through the visceral experience know that the space is populated by witches, both animatronic and real-life. Over the years, it’s come to be known as the Witch’s Haunted House.
Now, between 350 and 400 people go through it every Halloween night, Mindy said. It’s the only night it’s open.
The house is open from 5-9 p.m., and a long line often extends down the block as people wait to be scared. The Joneses do their best to make sure that each trip through the dark maze is different.
Mindy and Will lurk in the basement, along with a few others, and hide in the darkness. Their daughter Jess stands watch at the door, and reads the crowd.
“Some are excited,” Jess said, “but most are nervous.”
She leads them into the basement, and if a child is particularly young or nervous-looking, she’ll instruct the ghouls to take it a little easy.
Mindy, who dresses up as the witch every year, said she has even played the role of a nice witch before, leading a scared child through the house and warding off the other characters.
“It’s a safe place for kids, especially the younger ones, to come enjoy a little something extra from Halloween,” Mindy said.
For those who seem confident or a little older, the Joneses ramp up the horror. They’ve learned over the years that some people text their friends about where the witch is or where the biggest scares are, so they often shift around from time to time to keep people off-guard.
They also add new props and decorations each year, and Mindy said it takes them about a month to set everything up. A couple years ago, they installed a skeleton horse in the front yard and put one of their many human skeletons on top of it. He’s been dubbed “The Wraith” and stares down passing cars and pedestrians.
This article won’t give away any details about what to expect in the Witch’s Haunted House, but one general warning: If you don’t like spiders, it might be best to move quickly through the house.
There’s candy for people who choose not to go through the house, but the prize is much better — a bag with five pieces of candy — for those who brave the horrors of the basement.
Mindy said the feedback is usually excellent, and they have many repeat customers. She’s gotten some odd responses from people over the years, but one never ceases to surprise her: gratitude.
“We’ll have parents at the end who are like, ‘Thank you,’” Mindy said. “Like, I just scared your two kids, your wife and you and you’re thanking me? OK.”
• Reporter Alex McCarthy would like to wish you a spooky and safe Halloween. You can contact him at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.