Doors creak shut on Ghost Ridge in Maple Ridge

The health of two of the key volunteers, Lorraine Bates and Tom Cameron, decided the haunted house's fate last fall.

Over the past 14 years

Over the past 14 years

Ghost Ridge haunted house will no longer be scaring people silly at Halloween in Maple Ridge.

After 12 years of turning the old barns at the Albion Fairgrounds into various horror themes, the last shriek has echoed through them.

The health of two of the key volunteers, Lorraine Bates and Tom Cameron, decided the haunted house’s fate last fall.

“You realize that as much as you love it, you have to let it go,” said Bates.

“You get to the point, you give yourself to the community and it makes you feel good and it’s a good use of your time, but sometimes your family suffers,” she added.

“It comes to the point where you have to say, ‘enough.'”

Bates said the Ghost Ridge organizing committee decided last fall that 2015 would be the last year after no one stepped forward to replace Cameron, a key organizer of the charity fundraiser.

Several other key volunteers also had to step down for a variety of personal reasons.

“It was just a series of things and people’s lives. Things just change,” Bates said.

Ghost Ridge involved turning the agricultural buildings into Halloween sets that followed different themes each year. Last year’s them was Cirque de la Lune, following a circus theme.

Each year, different community clubs, from ringette to the canoe club to the Friends in Need Food Bank, would take turns producing the show and, in return, receive a cut of the gate proceeds.

“Over the past 12 years, we’ve made $270,000 that was shared between different groups,” said Bates.

Last year, the Maple Ridge Bruins Rugby Club, the Inritius Alliance acting group along with Country Fest all received about $5,000.

The most lucrative year for Ghost Ridge happened in 2005, when it made $30,700.

The take varied year by year, but usually came in around $20,000.

But in recent years, more haunted houses opened in Metro Vancouver. Producing the show meant a solid six weeks of work for each of the groups, not to mention the work involved on the actual nights of the event.

Fifty students from Maple Ridge high schools also donated their time as scary actors on the sets and, in the process of doing so, logged hours for their required work experience.

Bates wishes more Maple Ridge companies would take on students so they could get practical experience in a range of occupations.

Every student has to get a certain number of hours of work experience in order to graduate.

One of the features of Ghost Ridge involved the actors, usually high school kids, jumping out at visitors as they made their way through the barns.

While Ghost Ridge fades away, the other two main events at Albion fairgrounds, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Agricultural Association’s Country Fest and Christmas Hamper Society, are still going strong, with Bates leading the way. Country Fest takes place this year on July 23, 24.