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Prepare to be scared! Haunted house thrills

October 3, 2010
By KIM LOCCISANO For The Times Leader

"There is nothing like an old school haunt for the people who really love this stuff and who enjoy a good haunted house experience," said Captain Sean Norman of the Wells Township Police Department. "People keep coming back to our haunt, the Wells Township Haunted House, year after year because they know we will do our best to make sure they are never disappointed by their haunting experience here.

"Whether they are coming through here for the first time or for the 50th time, we know we've done our job right when people come running and screaming out the exit door at the end of the tour - and we see that a lot," he said.

The Wells Township Hunted House, located at the north end of Brilliant, is open to the public every Friday and Saturday night in October, with doors opening and tours beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door or ahead of time.

Article Photos

T-L Photo/KIM?LOCCISANO
ARE?YOU ready for a good scare? Then head on out to the Wells Township Haunted House in Brilliant. Open to the public every Friday and Saturday night during October, the venue is ranked as the second most popular haunted house in the state of Ohio. Pictured above are those volunteers who make the event happen. The event is overseen by the Wells Township Police Department.

Due to code regulations a controlled cap is kept on the number of persons being brought through the house on tour at any single given time, explained Norman.

This year's haunt experience will provide guests a memorable experience when inside the building, but the number and intensity of opportunities to interact with creepy characters calling the venue home now purposefully spills over to the surrounding grounds, and in ways sure to send a shiver down the spine of even the most seasoned haunted house houseguest, according to organizers.

"Honestly, the people who come to experience our haunted house know they will have to wait before being called into the house for their group tour. So, for their enjoyment we've added a couple big things to the interactive experience waiting for them outside to intensify the time they spend outside these walls," offered Norman.

"People can even expect to be chased by a creature or two after finishing the haunt tour and heading toward the car," he offered.

When it comes to the 2010 installment of the Wells Township Haunted House storyline great deal of time and effort was invested in designing, engineering, implementing and executing the mechanical and visual components of the complex effort, without which the overall effort would quickly have come up lacking - which Norman promises will not happen.

Each room is individually designed, but with a singular goal of having a collective impact on visitors strong enough to evoke from each of them a spontaneous response rooted in raw fear, according to Norman and several volunteers.

A number of things make the local venue stand out even when comparing it to haunts with huge commercial budgets and seemingly endless resources, says Normal, referring to the boundless resourcefulness he sees regularly put forward by volunteers working behind the scenes often for months at a time, who design and handcraft the essential elements which are put together in an effort at the local haunted house venue.

A fan of haunted houses since introduced to them as a teenager thanks to the annual efforts of a local church congregation which staged seasonal haunting event in the furthest reaches of the dark and nearly forgotten corners of the Victorian era building - an area rich with catacombs - which made the perfect home for annual Halloween activities coordinated by church members.

"People love getting scared. They love it that something scares them - or a friend - enough that they can't help reacting: they can't keep from jumping back from something when it startles them. Giving them that kind of experience is what we aim for."

The local project, got its start in 2002 at another location in the community and now more than a decade old, The Wells Township Haunted House program is being held for the second consecutive year in its permanent home at the north end of Brilliant, in a stone building built in the late 1800s which comes complete with its own, almost tangible, haunting spirits.

In the blink of an eye a typical visitor to the legendary haunted house finds they are no longer in a plain stone building at the heart of a small riverfront community, but have stepped through a portal into the unknown, unexpected and at times even terrifying.

"They love it. People who come here year after year know they can count on an event packed with innovative ways to hand them an event worth remembering and coming back to next year," said Norman. There is nothing average about the complex production carefully crafted by the diverse talents seen in the dedicated group of volunteers drawn to the haunted house event from communities up and down the river.

The two-story stone building now home to the widely known event offers organizers and designers almost 6,400 square feet of space in which to shape and share their always fear-based seasonal tales with visitors every Friday and Saturday evening throughout the month's end.

As is often the case with older homes: more than meets the eye is there to be found - especially when you are not looking for it or expecting it, explained Norman.

"We love to incorporate misdirection into the scenarios," offered Norman in a shared word of caution.

"There are certain things almost everybody is afraid of, and we pride ourselves on being able to play to as many of those fears as we can - and as intensely as we can - while people are visiting our haunted house," he said.

The popularity of the local haunted house has spread nationwide, and even beyond.

'The effort of these dedicated volunteers has not gone unrewarded, or their achievements unnoticed within the haunting community's citizens.

Awards and industry recognition are continuing to come to the project on a regular basis.

Recently the haunted house was recognized as the being the second most popular haunted house in the State of Ohio. An accolade awarded it in recent history designated the Wells township haunted House as one of the industry's top three events nationwide when it comes to overall quality.

But there is more that makes the 160 year old building and these haunted house activities interesting, particularly if you are interested in paranormal adventures and research efforts. it is increasingly being known among regional and national paranormal networks and researchers as having a great deal of activity going on within it of the type they seek out as research sites.

But the surprises the project holds are not limited to the event production or even the truly haunted status of the building.

As the project is built on a foundation meant to provide activities and learning opportunities for area teens and is overseen by the Wells Township Police Department, support in the way of volunteers is readily available among law enforcement personnel as well as from those who are part of the first responder resources of the region. Key among the supporters are personnel from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

"There is always a strong law enforcement presence here," said Norman, noting some are clearly visible and others who are "in character," join the ranks of the venue's volunteers.

"All these officers volunteer their time to work with the youth volunteers and get involved in the house. Each one is in character and working in the various rooms, and they also provide interior and exterior security for the Haunted House events," said Norman. "This is a great way to build positive relationships with the youth involved on this project from communities all across the valley."

It is also a wonderful example to the teens about giving back to the community around you, said Norman. Norman is particularly proud that several of the haunted house volunteer members have noted their involvement in the project on their National Honor Society applications and even on college applications.

The program is so well thought of by local community leaders that many of the teen volunteers have been given awards and school-based credit for the thousands of volunteer hours they have invested, many of which have been accepted toward fulfilling school-based community service graduation requirements.

Wells Township Police Department's dedication to this project were recognized with a plaque of appreciation being presented from the local school and the district.

To reach event officials at the Wells Township Haunted House for more information, including driving directions, visitwww.wellstownshiphauntedhouse.com

Proceeds from the professional quality production are directed straight back to the coffers of the haunted house operation, as it is a 501- c3 not for profit organization.

 
 

 

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