How Halloween Haunted Houses Bring the Community Together

my worldbettering communities

Every Halloween I can remember as a kid, the sound of a recorded heartbeat echoing down the block meant only one thing: the neighborhood dads were preparing for their annual Haunted House. It was the scariest Haunted House I’ve ever been to. I remember one dad lay on a table with a huge cow leg they got from the local butcher, while another dad hacked at it with a chainsaw and wore glasses with fake creepy eyes. There was always a strobe light room and a gorilla that chased you, which was the scariest room of all. My friend Juliet fell and broke her arm one year and to this day won't foot in another Haunted House.

Awesome memories like that gave my husband and I the idea to transform our garage into a Haunted House on Halloween. We wanted to make Halloween at our house an event to remember while building a sense of community.

So, six years ago, we started out with the basics—fog machine, strobe light, black lights, spooky creativity, and scary music—and we’ve added something new each year. My personal favorite is a scary ghost lady that my husband made with a mannequin head and a dress made of cheese cloth, sprayed with fluorescent paint. She hangs from the ceiling with fishing line, and she glows ever so slightly and looks translucent. She's super creepy in the pitch dark. One of our neighbors brought his puppy into the Haunted House a couple of years ago (I know, we asked ourselves the same question: who takes a puppy through a Haunted House?!), and I swear I hear that dog whimper every time he passes our house.

We may not have cow legs or chainsaws (thank goodness!), but we’ve become a tradition in our small town neighborhood, and the crowd grows bigger every year. We have a big cauldron of candy (some years a witch hands out the candy inside the Haunted House); we always serve a crock pot of steaming hot chili while people wait in line; and we go through gallons of water (trick-or-treaters get very thirsty). Our kids love to be involved, too. My oldest son and his friends hide out and scare people in the Haunted House, and my daughters stand guard at the entrance and exit (looking adorable instead of scary, I might add). My siblings also come and play a role and help take the kids trick-or-treating while we "work" in the haunted house.

Like my childhood, kids in our neighborhood are growing up with fun memories of Halloween, and that's what our Haunted House is all about.

What fun Halloween traditions does your family have?

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Cari McBride

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