Since 1987, the Campbell family in the Calgary community of Rocky Ridge has been transforming their home into a veritable cornucopia of Halloween scares while raising money for a good cause.
“It started just as a way to keep kids entertained on the street and then within the first couple years I was known at the school as a witch,” said Myrna Campbell laughing. “Every year it grows bigger and bigger and more and more. More elaborate, more details.”
So elaborate that the Campbell’s haunting efforts last year included the addition of what Campbell calls “Universal Studios-style” animatronics including a monster that grows from 12 to 20 feet with a 13 foot wingspan.
“Each year it just grew and grew and then we decided, ‘we’re getting hundreds of people coming through, let’s start doing something else’,” she said. “So we started collecting food for the food bank and then we’re very involved with Oops-A-Dazy animal rescue so we wanted them to benefit from it as well but we also didn’t want to give up the food bank so we do both. Our goal for this year is $10,000 for Oops-A-Dazy and 10,000 pounds of food for the food bank.”
This year’s theme for the haunted house is Haunted Calgary: Outbreak. The scenario includes a mind-altering pathogen that has taken over the planet. Add a mad scientist who tests himself with a virus, an aggressive disease, zombies and a grad student who finds an antidote for a scary Halloween adventure recipe.
With the increased number of visitors the family receives, including people from Edmonton, Strathmore and beyond; this year’s haunting will run Oct. 27, 28 and 31st. The Campbell’s start planning for their next Halloween extravaganza as soon as the current Halloween ends. The homes set up takes about 800 hours to complete and includes the volunteers efforts of 40 volunteers for each of the three nights and 50 volunteers coming from the food bank, Oops-A-Dazy and the community helping out with other things.
Drawing about 7,000 people a year brings a lot of traffic into the haunted house’s neighbourhood, but the increase in visitors hasn’t irked many of the communities residents.
“The (neighbours) on our block have all been very supportive,” said Campbell. “Making donations and things, helping out, the neighbours next door own Northland Subway so they’re donating Subway sandwiches to feed our volunteers so things like that really help.”
Haunted Calgary begins after dark at 222 Rocky Ridge Bay, parental discretion is strongly advised. For more information check out HauntedCalagary.com