Oak Harbor’s notorious haunted barn may be in its last year, and it’s going out with a scream.
The 19th annual Frightville is in full swing, running 7 p.m. until midnight Oct. 19, 25 and 26 and on Halloween. The frightening fundraiser for the Oak Harbor Boys & Girls Club might be the last of its kind if the barn sells soon, said Nikki Barone, unit director at the Boys & Girls Club.
“I think the community really looks forward to this event,” Barone said. “People come here because it is an elevated scare.”
This year, visitors can expect nothing less for their $13 donation to the nonprofit. The theme is phobias, and the Roller Barn’s basement has been transformed into a maze that weaves through themed rooms with spiders, clowns, what looks like dental equipment and even dots (the fear of clusters of dots or small holes is called trypophobia).
More than 40 volunteer actors bring the scene to life in a setting that took most of the year to create.
For those who want to enjoy the craftsmanship and creativity more closely and with the lights on, there are no-scare matinees from noon to 4 p.m. today and Oct. 26. Tickets are $5.
Barone mused at the detail her dedicated volunteers, led by Brian Boyle, put into scenes that many might miss as they run past in the dark.
“Every year they amaze me,” Barone said.
Boyle has for years attended a haunters convention and is now one of the presenters at the professional haunter show. He and Caleb and Chelsea Gremmel and a legion of other volunteers transform the historic barn each year at no cost to the Boys & Girls Club.
Their labors always produce scared but satisfied costumers. Last year the event raised more than $20,000. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to get through the house, depending on how quickly the participants are moving.
The haunters might chase visitors, but there are strict rules against touching. The idea is to be “scary not creepy,” according to the volunteers’ rules. If anyone is overwhelmed, there are emergency exit points throughout the house.
As long as participants feel safe and aren’t going to punch any of the actors, they are welcome to venture through no matter what age. Barone said she’s witnessed 6 year olds have a great time and adults that needed to be removed, so it’s really a personal call depending on “scare tolerance.”
Barone believes the house is comparable to some of the more professional operations she’s been to.
“I think it’s pretty incredible,” she said. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to host it.”