Thursday, October 14, 2004


Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do you do this?
Well, we didn't plan this exactly. We had a couple of Halloweens where we had only one or two trick or treaters. So we thought, "Let's do something to encourage the kids to come to our house on Halloween." So, we put up a small display of cheap stuff we bought at Target. Well, the kids loved it and we had maybe 20 or 30 trick or treaters. The kids told us they had fun seeing it all and we had fun putting it all out. So, then we thought, "we can make something better than the decorations we see in stores." So, we ditched the Target stuff and built a few items ourselves. That year we had more than 50 TOTs. Then we expanded a bit more. And then a bit more. Last year, we had more than 400 folks come through the haunted basement. Despite the fact that it's become more time consuming and expensive than we could ever have imagined, it's still fun for us. Along the way, we've observed that whole families are creating fun memories and spending a extra little time together while they take in the "haunt." We figure that's a pretty good reason to keep making the effort.

Where do you get all this stuff?
99% of what you see in our yard display and on Halloween night was built by hand. Most of the items we built ourselves. A few items were built by other people who share an interest in this hobby of halloweening. Exceedingly few items in our haunt were "manufactured."

Okay, what's it all made of?
The gargoyle and the wraith sign holder are "monster mud" creations. Their "skeletons" are PVC pipe (bought at Waldo hardware). Their "muscles" are chicken wire bent into shape. Their skin is cheap, lanscaping burlap that is dipped into "monster mud." Monster mud is joint compound mixed with latex paint. You dip the burlap and wrap it around the wireframe. We let it dry for a few days. Then we paint it. Fancy paper mache, really. The tombstones are 2" pink insulating foam carved with a dremel tool. Kate's ghost is NOT a projection as many of you have wondered. She is more like a marionette and is made out of cheese cloth and a wig form.

How did you learn how to make this?
If you read some earlier posts you'll see a few of the places that we went to learn. You can learn, too. Visit the Web sites we talk about here. And visit the link sections of those sites. Before you know it, you'll be "undertaking" a haunt of your own.

Where do you keep it all?
It's becoming an issue. Got any space in your garage or attic?

How do you broadcast the ghost story on the radio?
A very small FM transmitter. This kind of transmitter has a very short range and is often used in applications such as a school radio stations.

Does it bug you when people are outside your house in cars or on the sidewalk?
Of course not! We work hard to make "the haunt" worth your attention so we're happy when you to stop by to take it in. We're always glad to see families getting together and enjoying the spooky season with us. If you drive by, we encourage you to simply pull over to curb, safely park your car and turn off your lights while you listen to the radio show. We don't mind at all and believe this practice to be far safer than sort of creeping along in the middle of the street. Our only request: Our props are durable but not indestructable. If you're curious, we don't mind a gentle touch of the props. However, slapping, knocking, kicking and/or hanging on the props is, for understandable reasons, discouraged. Also, there are electrical cords running through the yeard so, for your safety, we strongly encourage walking visitors to stay on sidewalks.

What age is appropriate for the haunted basement?
All ages are welcome, but parents (or guardians) should be the final judge of whether or not their trick-or-treater will really enjoy the haunted basement. We try very hard to live up to our tagline: "Just scary enough for everyone." But, clearly, what is scary enough for a ten year old is significantly different than what is scary enough for a four year-old. We are prepared to make the tour more or less scary depending on the age of the guest, however, our experience says that kids 5 through 12 probably have the best time on the tour. It's pretty intense and scary for kids under five. And pretty boring and "lame" for teenagers.

We like your haunted house but boy do we hate the line. Anything to be done about it?
Last year we had some folks wait 20 minutes or more. We know that's a long time. Especially when you've got a trick-or-treater eager to increase their candy haul. Remember, though, that the line is for the haunted basement. If you just want some candy, any Sweeney Family Horror ghoul will be happy to give you your treat out front and you can be on your spooky way. If you want to take the tour, you'll need to wait in the line. Although this year, we'll do our best to make your wait a little more entertaining. If you do choose to wait in line (and we hope that you will), we do ask for your patience. Remember, running a haunted attraction is not our day job. We want everyone (us included) to have a good time. You can help us by being good sports (and 99% of you always have been. Thanks!)

Can adults go through the haunted basement without kids?
Sure. And if you are very good, say trick or treat, and are over 21, we're happy to pour you a glass of red "vampire blood" to help take the chill out of the Fall evening if you so desire. Hey, Mom & Dad need a treat, too!

Do you charge for this?
Nope, this is just for fun. At this time, we don't accept donations or tips either. Maybe there will come a day when we find we need to seek donations or sponsorships. But not today.

What do your neighbors think?
We have to thank our neightbors for being the best sports on the planet. Overall, our neighbors have been very supportive, although they have had to increase their candy budgets more than they would like. We actually see more of our neighbors this time of year than any other. In fact, some of them are starting to get into the act. And we think that's pretty cool. In Wichita, Kansas there is a street where every house has a "haunt" that's every bit as good (and in most cases better) than ours. We're not sure our neighbors are up for that quite yet. But we're holding out hope.

So, you plan to keep this up?
We'll continue to do this as long as it remains fun for us, our neighbors and our guests.

Want to know more?
Leave a comment here. We'll do our best to answer!

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