Haunted house promises to scare up some funds for after-school programs
New Castle resident Marcee Little is really into Halloween. For the past five Octobers, she’s turned her Castle Valley home into a veritable haunted house, complete with tombstones in the front yard and a fake wrought iron fence around her property.
“The kids call me the Cemetery Lady,” Little laughed.
Now Little is taking her passion for all things creepy crawly to a new dimension. She’s in the midst of constructing an elaborate haunted house at the Meldor Construction building in New Castle – the proceeds of which are going to a program for New Castle children. Funds generated from ticket and concessions sales will be donated to the New Castle Recreation Department to help finance an after-school program for middle-school children.
Last spring, New Castle Recreation Department director Brian Ash and Little talked about expanding the recreation department’s programming, and the idea for kick-starting an after-school program came up. Little thought that she could use her haunted house concept as a fund-raiser, but she knew it wasn’t realistic to base it at her house. It didn’t make sense to house it at someplace public like the New Castle Community Center since the haunted house would be stationed there for nearly a month.
“That’s when Norm Batcheldor came into the picture,” Little said of the construction company owner. “He heard we needed space and offered his.”
Batcheldor has not yet moved into his company into his new facility, which includes offices and a warehouse space, so it’s an ideal locale to construct a haunted house.
“Norm is a really nice guy,” LIttle said. “We wouldn’t be able to do the haunted house without him.”
New Castle Realtor Garry Buzick has also helped the haunted house project.
“He gave us $500 to help pay for black lights, fog machines, skeletons – things like that,” Little said. “His money made this possible.”
Little is receiving help from Workenders, a community work-release program. Citizens who have committed traffic violations such as driving under the influence can work off incarceration time by working on community service projects such as the haunted house.
“They’ve been so great,” she said. Little said her husband Dave has been “a very tolerant hubby,” and their two children, Allysa, 12, and Jonathan, 19, are pitching in to help.
Visitors to New Castle’s newest haunt can expect a top-notch experience. Little is a member of two Internet newsgroups with more than 1,000 members dedicated to Halloween and haunted houses.
“There’s a guy that makes props for `CSI,’ and a lot of people run haunted houses professionally,” she said. “I get a lot of information and ideas from them.”
Little says that her haunted house has two shows – one for the big kids and one for the younger set.
“Fright Lite is 50 percent less scary and 100 percent more fun,” Little said. It runs from 7:30-8 p.m.
“It’s a lighter version,” she smiled. “It’s appropriate for children under 12.”
Little says some of the actors who will be on hand to scare the older kids and adults will take a break during Fright Light, and some of the guts of the haunted house, so to speak, will be covered up so as not to freak out the wee ones.
After a half-hour break, Frightmares will show from 8:30-10:30 p.m.
“Frightmares is PG-12,” Little said. “Our tag line is `What are you afraid of? Your worst fears come true.’ It’s based on fears and phobias. We’ve got everything: spiders, snakes, clowns, the monster under the bed, a scary death row inmate.”
Little says that in her five years of producing haunted houses, she’s never made a child – or adult, for that matter – cry.
“Our motto is `No whining, no crying, no refunds,'” she smiled. “There are no children under 12 admitted without an adult. It helps us avoid anyone getting freaked out.”
The Frightmare Haunted House and the milder Fright Lite version opens on Oct. 11 and will be open Friday and Saturday nights, including Halloween night, Oct. 31. The house is located in the Meldor Construction building, across the Colorado River from New Castle, upstream from Mr. T’s hardware store. Admission is $3/person. To donate funds to the project, to volunteer, or for more information, contact Marcee Little at 984-2530.
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