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Oak Harbor's haunted house is looking for fresh blood this Halloween
There will be screaming. And more screaming. That’s what the Frightville Haunted House team can promise this year.
What they can’t promise is that visitors to the 12th annual haunted house will make it out of the Roller Barn without a few years’ worth of nightmares.
Is that blood-covered doll or lurking shadow just a prop — or a scream-thirsty actor waiting to jump out at terrified visitors? Are the shivers running down the back of your neck just fear — or a spider sliding down from the ceiling?
In the dark, anything goes, and this year, volunteers are taking terror to the next level.
Groups are thrown into the dark to brave a room of masks that aren’t all fake, a room where dolls with spinning heads come to life and, as the walls close in and the evil laughter gets louder, visitors enter a final room where one word written on the walls says it all: Run.
“We completely redesigned the haunted house,” said Brian Boyle, a volunteer whose character has earned him a fan-base: Mr. Giggles the clown.
Volunteers have been laboring since April to renovate the rooms.
“No room was left the same,” said Johanna Boyle, eyeing the sacrificial Christmas dove she designed for her room in the haunted house.
This year’s house features a number of changes. Unlike last year, visitors will come in through the graveyard before hearing the rules of the house; last year, the house was explained in the safe, lighted holding area.
“And then we throw them to the wolves!” Johanna laughed.
Screams help kids
But the screams are for a good cause. Profits go to the Boys and Girls Club, also housed in the Roller Barn.
This year, the house is completely self-sufficient, Brian said. Donors paid for the materials to create the house; last year, expenses totaled $2,000. Thanks to the sponsors, all the money raised this year will go directly to the Boys and Girls Club. Sponsors are WhidBerry Frozen Yogurt, Toppins, Whidbey Island Bank, Jeff Pleet at Edward Jones Investment, Cathy and Duncan Chalfant at Candy Enterprises and Spatz of Washington General Contractors.
Instead of designing the house around a storyline, this year, Brian said he asked volunteers to name their fears. Then he took advantage of every tingle of terror to create rooms featuring bees, zombies, clowns, dolls and even germs.
“Even people who have come to this house before will be totally surprised this year,” LauraJean Krueger said. This is her fourth year volunteering for Frightville and she’s heightening the horror as a blood-spattered Stepford wife gone horribly wrong.
“You get to let the insane out!” Krueger said of her excitement to join the haunted house. Her eyes blanked out with white contacts, she looked all too eager to “let the insane out” as she described the entertainment of scaring visitors silly.
Mr. Giggles seems like a sweet name, but take one look at the clown’s face and any realization that Brian is under that mask will be drowned out by screaming.
“I help people out to their cars, through their sunroofs, chase them to Kmart,” Brian said, a hint of his terrifying character coming through under his innocent tone.
“Yeah, help them choose out new clothes,” Johanna laughed. “It’s not a myth that people wet themselves in here. It’s been confirmed night after night.”
She’s fashioning a golden Febreze can to congratulate such visitors.
It’s not hard to imagine the fear as Brian described one of his favorite scare moves: locating a boyfriend and girlfriend holding hands, then switching hands with the boyfriend and waiting for the girl to turn around.
“I just like scaring people,” Brian said.
While the haunted house isn’t lacking in potential screams, it is in need of more volunteers.
“You don’t have to be an actor. You just have to want to have some fun,” Johanna said.
It’s just ordinary people having a good time.
“I teach scrapbooking — and I cut up doves,” Johanna laughed.
It takes at least 30 volunteers per night to run the house, and the more volunteers, the more actors available to leap out of the dark.
“Yeah, because if you can scare somebody three or four times in a room,” Brian said, finishing his sentence with a laugh.
“Especially in the first room,” Johanna added.
Anyone can sign up by filling out the paperwork at the Roller Barn.
New this year is a Halloween Dance and Costume Party, set for Friday, Oct. 19. Brave the haunted house downstairs, then head upstairs to “party it up with Mr. Giggles,” Johanna said.
“If you didn’t get enough Giggles downstairs, he’ll come upstairs,” she added.
Also new this year is the Witching Hour. The last hour of each Saturday night is lights off.
“It’s going to be lights off, no guides, here’s a flashlight, good luck,” Johanna said.
“But there will be plenty of people inside ‘helping you,’” Brian laughed.
And don’t bother to bring your own flashlight — volunteers have a “special” stash set aside.
“We can always use corpses for next year,” Krueger said.
Lights-on matinees on Saturday afternoons give the younger crowd a chance to enjoy the haunted house, too.
“We do have a lot of really good details in the house you don’t get to see,” Krueger said.
“Especially with your hands over your face,” Johanna added.
Their only advice while braving the haunted house: never be in the front or back of the group — and definitely don’t be in the middle.
“We love this!” Krueger said.
Frightville Haunted House
6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19
7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20; Witching Hour is 10 to 11 p.m.
7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26.
7 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 27; Witching Hour is 11 p.m. to midnight.
6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29.
6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30.
6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31; Witching Hour is 9 to 10 p.m.
Cost: $10; benefits Boys and Girls Club.
At the Roller Barn, 98 NE Barron Drive, Oak Harbor.
Halloween Dance and Costume Party:
8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19 at the Roller Barn.
Snacks, no-host bar, music by Paid ‘n Full.
Cost: $15 in advance at the Roller Barn or Pita Pit.
Volunteers are needed. More information: 360-240-9273; www.frightvillehaunt.com.