Two weeks of terror with annual haunted house

  • Oct. 8, 2014 2:51 p.m.

‘Red Deer’s Most Fatal Attraction’ returns this year with the Zed Haunted House, presented by the hard work and long hours of the Red Deer and District Boys and Girls Clubs.

For 24 years, the Haunted House has been the major source of fundraising for Boys and Girls Club programs in the area, including youth shelters. The high quality horror show has been carefully designed and built upon over the course of many years and is now even a featured Alberta Tourism destination.

“It’s not a typical haunted house type thing that you’d imagine for Halloween. A lot of the characters and volunteers are youth, and this is very interactive. It’s more of a production than anything else,” said John Johnston, event manager at the Red Deer Boys and Girls Club.

“It isn’t a matter of people just jumping out of corners and scaring you – they are trained actors that take courses and training and everything to be in certain roles in the haunted house. A lot of our props, even down to our masks and everything are very orchestrated, very high-end. It’s not costumes that you’d typically see in a costume store – they are very well done.”

For the last two years the event was given the title of the Number One Haunted Charity Attraction in North America by the International Haunted Attractions Association.

Johnston says that the general event is not recommended for children under 10 years of age due to the quality of horrors but there are weekend matinees that were created specifically for youngsters. At the matinees, the attraction is geared down and “very scary or gross” sections are not visible to children.

For teens and adults, the event kicks off on Oct. 17th and will run each night from 6 to 10 p.m. until Halloween night. The Haunted House is located between Spirit Halloween and Sport Chek in Parkland Mall.

To bring a new twist on an old favourite, the Haunted House will feature a guideless portion this year where visitors will have to find their own way through the terrors.

“The challenge every year is to do something new and different. This year, we’re thinking around the theme of Game of Thrones and we will have authentic White Walkers that will be here as our new big characters,” said Johnston.

Johnston was excited to be able to bring the authentic Hollywood White Walker costumes all the way to Red Deer.

A volunteer is behind every character, each scary twist and small decoration. Youths from the Boys and Girls Club have gotten involved and are in training to be scare-masters.

“The funds raised go to support the club. The kids are out there having fun and at the same time, helping to raise money for their own club. We had a meeting a little while ago and the kids are all fired up and have the ball rolling.

“I think it’s great that it’s not only a fundraiser and the kids benefit and receive the funds from it, but they are part of it. They’re out there working and volunteering and raising funds like everyone else. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s probably the most labour-intensive, exhausting fundraising event that we ever do.”

Johnston expressed that his favourite portion of the event is the amount of community support and volunteers who come to put the event together. He said that people are often astounded when they realize how many hours go into the planning, construction, production and takedown of the event.

“All the volunteers are excited now during set up and everything but the highlight is actually watching the audience that comes out to the event and their reactions to it. It’s so great to see.”

Tickets at the door are $15 per person. A full list of admission prices and more event details are available at the web site.