Bobby Kaczor (right) and his chainsaw conjure visions of Deadite in Jaycee volunteer Sara Weick’s imagination.
Daniel Werling of Allen Park, dressed as Buzz Lightyear, enjoys a free doughnut at the 2009 Trunk or Treat event.
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
When it comes to Halloween, Downriver communities know how to scare up a good time.
From haunted houses, museum open houses, senior activities to child-friendly events, residents host ghosts, serve spirits and celebrate the region’s past in the present.
The Wyandotte Jaycees will present Massacre Manor, 2324 Biddle, as their 2010 haunted house. Organizers say the annual fundraising event offers affordable fright. With new tricks, surprises and scares this year, they say their haunted house is one of Michigan’s best.
The house, which will be torn down after the Halloween season, has a “blood bath,” optical illusions, special lighting and sensory effects, as well as characters whose role is to catch people off guard.
Courtney Cox, a senior at Wyandotte’s Roosevelt High School, has volunteered as a scary character for the second year in a row. Her service hours apply toward her National Honor Society requirements. She has fun catching complacent visitors unawares at the end of their walk through the haunted house.
“When they all think they’re done with (it), and then you scare them at the last minute, that’s the best time,” Cox said.
She finds that adults often have more vivid imaginations than children, and therefore are more susceptible to the spooky illusions of the special effects.
Local Jaycee volunteer Tom Jones says visitors are “looking for that fear factor.”
“They want that scared feeling,” he said, “and trust me – they’ve had it!” Volunteer James Lubaway enjoys seeing visitors having fun, smiling and laughing at the haunted house after the sponsors have put in long hours to create the spooky special effects.
Chelsea Dobija of Southgate, an 18-year-old Jay-Teen volunteer, “loves doing community services and loves seeing people laugh.”
“A lot of people get a kick out of the haunted house, and they like to laugh. Even though they’re screaming, they still have a fun day at the end,” Dobija said.
She also believes that adults have more fun than children and teens.
“It brings out the kid in them when they go through the haunted house,” Dobija said, adding that the volunteers “try to scare each other all the time.”
Despite the special effects children now experience through the media, veteran haunted house volunteer Dave Douglas of Taylor doesn’t believe they have become jaded.
“I can scare just about anybody,” he said.
Children seem to have more fun when they go through a haunted house with friends, Douglas said, but groups going through at any one time should be kept small – no more than five people at a time – to keep the special effects fresh.
The house also helps finance the Wyandotte Jaycees’ philanthropy. Last year the group spent $20,000 turning the former police station into a haunted house, and made a $27,000 profit after expenses.
About $10,000 went into this year’s haunted house, and Jones said they hope to clear $20,000 to $30,000 for their projects.
“This will pretty much fund all the projects we run through the year,” he said. “Our Easter egg hunt, our backpacks for kids, our food for the needy, Thanksgiving baskets … it funds everything.”
Volunteer Sara Weick’s favorite Jaycee fundraising event is the annual haunted house, and she’s pleased that it will help provide area families with Thanksgiving food baskets.
“I think it is a tough time,” she said, adding that on Friendly Monster Nights, patrons can get in for two cans of food per child. The donations to go families in need referred to Jaycees by agencies they work with, which include the Salvation Army.
The trick or treat-style event for for children age 6 and younger is held from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 31, and offers a “no-scare, no-masks, brightly lit” environment.
The haunted house will be open every Thursday through Sunday in October. Friday and Saturday hours are 7 p.m. to midnight, with 7 to 10 p.m. hours Thursday and Friday.
Admission is $12, with $2 discount coupons on the fliers and listed in the local Fear Finder seasonal publication. Discounts are available for employees of nearby Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital and other Jaycees.
For more information go to WyandotteJaycees.org/HH; online group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
Additional haunted houses throughout Michigan are listed online at www.fearfinder.com. More Downriver frights are listed below.
The Allen Park Library, 8100 Allen Road, will host its 11th annual Haunted Library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday for children ages 3 to 10 years old.
No registration is required. Children will hear stories, make a craft and trick or treat throughout the library.
Kids are encouraged to wear a costume, but are asked to leave swords and wands at home.
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An animal costume party will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 25 at the VCA Allen Park Animal Hospital, 5401 Allen Road. First prize will be a $25 credit for the hospital. Second prize is a free day of pet board; third prize is a free nail trim.
Candy bags will be given to adults accompanying children in costume. Cider and doughnuts will be served.
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A Halloween Bingo Party will be sponsored by the Allen Park Senior Program for residents age 50 and older at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Community Center, 15800 White. Refreshments and snacks will be served.
Participants are encouraged to wear a Halloween costume. Prizes will be awarded. Yearly membership costs $9, and there is a $4 fee for the program.
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Joel Tacey will perform his Spooktacular Comedy Show 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Allen Park Community Center at 15800 White.
His interactive comedy routine features costumes, juggling, magic and more. Pizza and pop will be served at 6 p.m. before the 6:30 p.m. showtime.
Tickets are on sale for $8 at the Community Center until Oct. 25 or until the event reaches capacity. No tickets will be sold at the door.
The show is recommended for ages 5 and older. Children are encouraged to come dressed in a Halloween costume.
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Creative Characters, sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department, presents Tombstone Terror Stories at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 and 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Allen Park Municipal Auditorium, 16850 Southfield Road.
Halloween in Greenfield Village provides family fun in a turn-of-the-century setting. Numerous carved jack-o-lanterns light the pathways.
Visitors may see the Headless Horseman on his trusty steed, talk to a wise witch and collect treats at stations throughout the village.
Remaining dates are Friday through next Sunday. Groups enter every half hour from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
Admission prices vary. For more information call (313) 982-6001 or go to TheHenryFord.org/Halloween.
The city will hold its third annual Harvest Fest and Trunk or Treat event from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Allendale Elementary School, 3102 Oakwood Blvd.
Residents are encouraged to decorate their vehicle and bring candy to offer trick or treaters. Hot dogs and potato chips will be available for purchase; free cider and doughnuts will be available.
Prizes will be awarded for the most creative and best-decorated cars. To register a car or for more information contact Michelle Alvarado by telephone at (313) 623-6464 or by e-mail at [email protected]
The Recreation Department will offer a Halloween Monster Smash from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 29 for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The event will start with a walk through the kid-friendly, monster-inhabited trick or treat forest adjacent to City Hall.
Afterward pizza and pop will be served in the City Hall gymnasium, followed by a costume contest with prizes for each grade level.
Other recreational activities are planned, followed by an orange and black prize drop.
Children are encouraged to wear a Halloween costume and bring a trick or treat bag.
Tickets will be on sale until Oct. 27, and will not be sold at the event. One hundred tickets will be sold.
Tickets are $8 for residents and $10 for nonresidents. Children must be in the kindergarten-to-fifth-grade age range, and birth certificates will be required to register.
Call the department at (734) 281-4219 for more information.
The Taylor Scream Machine, 21207 Eureka Road next to the Gibraltar Trade Center, has new special effects and has been expanded for the current season. The Hellevator is back by popular demand.
Admission is $15, and is open from 7 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 to midnight Fridays and Saturdays in October.
For more information call (734) 341-3379 or go to www.thescreammachine.net.are listed below.