Home displays and professional attractions make for a Halloween not to be missed.
By Michael BRUER, Marissa GOULD and Mary O’KEEFE
It’s that time of the year when the word “spooky” is seen in every store window and fake cobwebs are hung on any surface that will hold them. Lawns are littered with ghosts, goblins, witches, and – in some cases – body parts.
Halloween is approaching and in the Crescenta Valley there is plenty to see and do to celebrate the holiday.
The Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Dept. is partnering with Glendale Centre Theatre and a group of motion picture special effects artists to create the second annual Haunted House at Crescenta Valley Park.
The CV Sheriff’s Station used to host a haunted jail that was very popular with local residents, but that event stopped several years ago due to organizers leaving the station and cuts to the budget. The CV Park Haunted House organizers wanted to fill that gap and put together a show for all ages.
Last year, the decision to create a haunted house was made in October leaving a short time to plan and build. This year there was more time allotted for planning and more local special effects artists were available to help pull the event together.
“We want this to be for the whole community,” said Abel Garcina, Recreation Services supervisor for CV Park.
The event is for the community, by the community. In addition to support from L.A. County Parks and Recreation, local parents are helping with the construction, Glendale Centre Theatre stepped in with props and sets, CVHS drama department donated costumes and the Prom Plus Club members from CV High School will provide ghostly guidance.
“I love Halloween,” Garcina said.
The location for the CV Haunted House is 3901 Dunsmore Ave. in La Crescenta. CV Haunted House will be on Oct. 30-31 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Nov. 1 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. There will be less intense tours for younger children.
Proceeds will benefit the L.A. County Parks and Recreation programs and the Prom Plus organization. For 20 years, Prom Plus has been “saving lives one prom at a time.” The organization provides a safe, after-prom party for CVHS seniors and their guests.
Over in Whiting Woods, all ghouls, goblins, ghosts, spirits, princesses, pirates, and zombies (not to mention superheroes, cartoon favorites, and Power Rangers) are invited to Property Masters Realty and Skullfish “Nightmare in Whiting Woods,” a haunted house at 413 Whiting Woods Dr. in La Crescenta/Glendale that opens Halloween night at sunset.
“Nightmare in Whiting Woods” is a production orchestrated by David Krohn of Glendale who has been hosting a haunted house at his residence for 12 years. He aims to improve on the 500-plus trick-or-treaters he attracted last year and is confident that his haunted house will accomplish such staggering numbers.
“This year is pretty special because we have a lot of stuff to work with. We have actors, special effects, and seven different themed areas for people to enjoy,” said Krohn. “It’s a production that takes the entire month to set up.”
Krohn and his team have engineered a new strategy to decrease the wait time for his visitors that allows more trick-or-treaters in the building at one time. Visitors to this year’s experience can expect spiders, clowns, zombies, surgeries-gone-wrong, dragons, and tigers, just to name a few.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things we’ve done over the years,” he said of the inspiration for this year’s attraction.
He and his wife created a haunted house while living on a cul-de-sac years ago. To appease his wife’s desire to attract trick-or-treaters, Krohn borrowed some Halloween decorations and equipment from a friend the first year. By the third year, hundreds of visitors flocked to his house to appreciate and marvel at the frightening display.
“By our third year, we were running out of candy,” he said.
Twenty-plus actors will pepper the haunted house, anxiously awaiting unsuspecting visitors who enter, free of charge. Visitors will be allowed in at sunset and the house will shut down at 11 p.m.
In many neighborhoods, enthusiasts have decorated their front yards with elaborate displays. Craig Fisher’s home in the 4400 block of New York Avenue has been a favorite haunting ground.
“I started decorating when I moved to La Crescenta in 2005,” Fisher said. “It started with Christmas [decorations] and then I started making my own gravestones and it just kept growing.”
Fisher said that it takes a couple of days to get everything set up but he’s still “tinkering” and adding things until Halloween, getting ready for the 200 to 300 kids and parents who will be stopping by.
Thankfully, Fisher’s neighbors are understanding of his enthusiasm for the holidays.
“It’s pretty funny how many people I run into who don’t know me but know the ‘Craig’s Electric’ house [Fisher owns Craig’s Electric] because of the decorations, especially on Halloween night when I bring out the Talking Skeleton (Mr. Bones) and the life size Jason and get the fog machines and scary music going,” he said.
Other local homeowners embrace Halloween with the same zest. Ray (who prefers to not have his address or last name mentioned) is another La Crescenta homeowner who goes all out in his decorating. Skeletons in various poses are scattered across his lawn, climbing his rooftop trying to outrun oversized spiders or mounted on bicycles ready to pedal to the moon.
“I really enjoy doing it,” Ray said, but added that it’s a lot of work especially since he doesn’t have a crew to help out.
Just as enticing are the decorations and attractions that make up a dazzling scene at 3552 Prospect Ave. in La Crescenta.
Brandy Yi and her family have transformed their home in true Halloween fashion, complete with 25 inflatables, a graveyard scene and dismembered heads.
“We tried to make one side spookier than the other, with one being more kid-friendly. This year we’ve included a fog machine, strobe lights, music that plays in the yard, 20-plus tombstones, skeletons, and ground-poppers (animated heads that seemingly pop-up out of the ground),” explained Yi. The family hopes to expand upon the 200 trick-or-treaters they entertained last year, and seek to do so with a display that appeals to visitors of all ages.
For those who aren’t as eager to wander from house to house in search of candy, where some houses may have confusing gates or lots of steps before a kid can finally reach the door for that sweet treat, Montrose Shopping Park offers Spooktacular.
Started in 2005, Spooktacular is a fun, safe way for kids to enjoy their Halloween and get their free candy. It starts at 5 p.m. and continues until all the sweets are gone. The shops in the 2200, 2300 and 2400 blocks of Honolulu Avenue hand out candy to any kids (or parents) that shout “trick or treat!” The candy is supplied to the shops by Dale Dawson of the Montrose Shop Park Assn. and then the shop owners add their own favorites into the mix. Not only can kids take part in the evening’s fun, but pets are welcome as well. There will be a pet costume contest that is sponsored by Andersen’s Pet Shop, plus there will be food booths and inflatable attractions to keep the fun going!
Last year, Spooktacular attracted over 5,000 eager trick-or-treaters and their parents to the Montrose Shopping Park and, according to event coordinator Linda McMenamin, it’s growing every year. Everything is sponsored by the small businesses of the Montrose Shopping Park.
Whether heading to structured events like the Haunted House at CV Park, Nightmare in Whiting Woods or Montrose’s Spooktacular or visiting the displays by local homeowners, revelers are guaranteed Halloween fun – almost as much fun as those who host these events each year.
“It’s something I just love to do for the community,” said Fisher. “I have kids stop by every day to look at the yard with their parents. Halloween is particularly fun because the house is pretty scary. Some kids won’t even come up the driveway without some reassurances from their parents. But they always leave with a smile on their face.
“My kids are grown and gone, but I don’t think I will ever grow up.”