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Time to scare

Wednesday, on a quiet, unsuspecting street in Nevada City, ghouls and half rotting corpses will awaken to give lines of trick-or-treaters their annual free scare and piece of candy.

“We don’t want fairy princesses or beautiful people. We ask them to be dead or dying,” said the owner of the house, who asked to remain anonymous. You may know her as the unattractive, slightly rotting elderly woman who appears in the holographic window.

The haunted house she started in her garage 15 years ago when her kids were young has turned into what she calls “a ridiculous obsession.”



Access to Internet-based companies has helped her collection of the grotesque grow creepier in recent years. And her contacts in town have drawn a coterie of supporters. (You’d be surprised to know just who.)

A group of 25 to 30 friends, who find pleasure in scaring people, help staff the unscripted haunted house.




“Some of the better entertainers take their parts very seriously,” the woman said. Other unknowns join in the fun and act “weird in the driveway.”

The haunting has become a neighborhood institution. Mothers who visited during their youth now bring their own children.

“We create memories here,” said the woman. She doesn’t charge a fee because watching parents interact with their children on Halloween night is gratification enough, she added.

Knowledge of the haunted house has spread by word of mouth; it now draws as many as 2,000 trick-or-treaters and their parents each year. So the woman asked that her name and address not be published because of crowd control concerns.

“It seems to be ground zero in Nevada City,” the demure hostess explained.

But for those who know where to look, caged victims in jail will taunt guests as they wait in line while a witch flies over their heads on her broomstick.

Characters regularly reach out and touch visitors, adding to the unpredictability of trick or treating there.

“Chaos reigns that night,” the woman said with a cackle.

This year, visitors will duck through black plastic draperies and rattling bones to enter rooms lined with glowing skulls and skeletons and the trademark polka-dot room.

“We have a green fluorescent look here in the mad laboratory,” the woman said, pointing to a deranged, skeletal doctor illuminated by black lights and hanging from the ceiling.

From there, visitors will walk through a dungeon covered with bats and lost souls before retrieving a piece of candy.

The haunted house isn’t recommended for children under four years old. Little ones can get a treat without going into the house.

So a first trip through marks a brave moment in a child’s life.

“It’s kind of a right of passage for a six-year-old,” she said.

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To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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