PORT TOWNSEND — Deep in the basement of the Port Townsend Elks Lodge, screams are heard loud and clear as the Haunt Town haunted house opens to allow willing sacrifices to enter its labyrinth of scares.
Haunt Town’s opening night was Friday. It will be open Friday and Saturday nights throughout October until Halloween from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with additional nights on Sunday, Oct. 26 and the night of Halloween, Oct. 31.
The Elks Lodge is located at 555 Otto St.
Tickets are $12 per person and can be purchased at the door with cash only.
From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 24, the haunted house will host a special kids presentation in which scenes will be brighter and the actors will be standing still.
Admission that day will be $5 for children 13 and under accompanied by a fully paid adult, said Steve Spencer, Haunt Town director.
The Port Townsend Kiwanis Club organizes Haunt Town. Proceeds are split among the Elks Lodge, area school districts and Kiwanis.
One dollar goes to the Port Townsend Elk’s Lodge to help pay for the use of its facilities. Another dollar for each student who attends is given to that school’s Associated Student Body organization. The remainder goes to Kiwanis programs and the haunt itself.
The theme of this year’s haunt is “What Lurks in the Dark.” A variety of decorated rooms are spread through a darkened labyrinth that has taken Steve and Christy Spencer over 300 hours to put together with the help of other volunteers.
“That’s not just here,” Steve said. “That’s sitting at home working on my floor plan and music.”
Visitors shouldn’t worry about getting trapped in this labyrinth, as there are “chicken exits” scattered throughout the haunt for those too scared to reach the exit or in case of an emergency.
Thursday night, actors conducted a rehearsal to go over what each portion of the haunt will entail and to brainstorm a couple of costuming ideas, such as what the janitor will wear.
“A creepy janitor is what I’m going for,” Christy said, “the janitor that kids avoid at all cost.”
Steve got his start in haunted houses volunteering with Haunttownsend at the Port Townsend Fairgrounds, which stopped production in 2010, Steve said.
Haunt Town is the only Halloween haunted house in East Jefferson County, according to The Scare Factor, which has a registry of haunts across the nation. Other haunts in Washington can be found at https://www.thescarefactor.com/haunted-house-directory/washington/.
Christy explained to the group of volunteers that some of the opening night will be experimental.
They are not sure what kind of crowd they will see, but the rule is to scare anyone who walks through the door.
“As we all know, opening night is a dress rehearsal,” Christy said.
On Thursday, volunteers walked through the labyrinth of rooms twice, first with the lights on so that people could see all the minute details that were put into the sets and Christy could talk people through their roles a bit more, pointing out different gimmicks that are employed.
The second time was with the lights off.
One scare successfully surprised almost everyone in the group.
“They’re not going to like that at all,” Christy said.
Haunt Town is going strong now into its fifth year.
“I enjoy putting this together,” Steve said. “The whole aspect of putting on a whole theatrical show, helping the kids, and scaring the crap out of people.”
Actress Thresa Hendricks stars in one scene by herself, and this is her second year participating in Haunt Town, after her cousin convinced her to try it out.
“I’m a huge fan of Halloween,” Hendricks said. “And I’m an artist, so I do Halloween art all year round.”
Though she is doing the scaring herself, Hendricks is not immune to the haunting atmosphere of the scenes.
“I like being on edge and helping scare people,” Hendricks said. “But honestly, I am scared just being in here.”
Hendricks was setting up some props in her scene Thursday, as she planned on how she would “try to blend in and be a character.”
Haunt Town currently has 12 to 14 actors, but Steve is looking for three to four more “for this season to be perfect,” he said.
The haunt has a list of rules posted outside the door stating such obvious things as no running, no rough housing, no drugs/alcohol, no lights, etc.
But there are two rules that people should pay attention to before even arriving:
Rule 9: “Not suitable for children under 10, [children] under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.”
Rule 13: “Death! If you die we reserve the right to make you part of the attraction!”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].