For volunteers like Tom Cameron and Les Granholm, scaring the bejeezus out of people has become an annual obsession. They are part of the hard working core of volunteers behind the annual Ghost Ridge haunted house at the Albion Fairgrounds.
Wednesday morning they were hammering nails and painting walls, putting together the interior of this year’s house of horrors, complete with hidden passages, optical illusions and terror behind every corner.
It’s a labour of love for Cameron, who has been putting in 12-hour days to get the haunted house ready in time for its grand opening next Friday, Oct. 21.
“It’s for a good cause, that’s why we all do this,” says Cameron.
He’s been volunteering with Ghost Ridge since its inception eight years ago.
“It’s a unique core group of people, we really enjoy each other’s company and we work well together,” says organizer Lorraine Bates. “I call it the Hotel California, because once you’re in, you never leave.”
Each year, the haunted house features a different theme from the morbid brain of volunteer Joan Granholm.
“I swear, she’s thinking about Halloween all year round,” Bates said.
This year’s theme is called “Poison Pen,” and visitors will delve into the deranged writings of a mad man and follow his descent into insanity.
Throughout the haunted house are more than 25 volunteer actors, hiding in the shadows, ready to terrify the brave souls who enter.
Many are from local high schools, and their volunteer time will count towards their work experience graduation requirement.
“It’s a win-win situation having the students,” says Bates. “They are a great resource.”
The annual Halloween fundraiser raised more than $16,000 for local non-profits last year, and Bates is hoping to top that this year.
“We had about 3,500 people coming over the five days last year,” she said.
This year, Ghost Ridge will be open for six nights, with two family-friendly viewings at 4 p.m. on Oct. 22 and 29.
“It’s pretty scary,” she says. “We don’t recommend anyone under 14 going in.”
It’s not uncommon for patrons to get so terrified that they have to leave the haunted house. Bates says there will plenty of safety volunteers to escort anyone to one of the so-called “chicken” exits.
This year proceeds from Ghost Ridge will going to support the Society for Creative Anachronism, Ridge Meadows Roller Derby, and the Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club, with all the groups involved volunteering to help put the haunted house together. The Maple Ridge Lions Club will also holding a fireworks demonstration at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30.
• For more information, visit www.ghostridge.org.
Ghost Ridge runs Oct. 21-22 and 27-30, from 6 to 9 p.m. each night. A special family friendly tour of the haunted house takes place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 and 29. Admission is $8; $4 for the family viewing.