By Charly SHELTON
Crescenta Valley goes all out at Halloween. From extensive yard decorations to haunted attractions and even closing down part of the town to facilitate trick-or-treating, our town knows how to have a scary good time.
For those 12-and-under trick-or-treaters who want to explore outside their neighborhood and take a night on the town, Montrose Shopping Park is the place to see and be seen. The annual Halloween Spooktacular will be held on Halloween night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The merchants of Montrose Shopping Park will be staying open late to give treats to all the little ghouls and goblins that come knocking. This is a family-friendly event featuring live music, a fun atmosphere and fun for all ages. Parking is free but will fill up fast if previous years’ events are any indication. For more information, visit shopmontrose.com.
For those searching for a more daring scare, there are several options for their ghoulish delight. The Haunted Jail at the CV Sheriff’s Station will be in full swing again this year. Last year, the Haunted Jail was resurrected and opened to stunning praise from guests. This year, haunt director Mark Shelton has pushed the limits of the haunt even further to bring even more scares, monsters and effects than ever before.
“We are going to do ‘Haunted History’ this year,” said Shelton. “You start out in a time travel vehicle and are sent back through time, starting in the Ice Age and move up through modern times to see some of the worst that humans have to offer. We have Vlad the Impaler, Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper; we have the Salem witch trials, Spanish Inquisition, French Revolution … any time or place where people have been bad to their fellow man.”
The show is located on the grounds of the Sheriff’s Station and, despite the name, the show does not actually go on inside the jail as it did last year. This year’s location is larger and more secluded, allowing for bigger sets and more freedom to build. The show will open tonight, Thursday, and run through Halloween night, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night. Scan the QR code with this story to see last year’s maze and the testimonials from some delighted guests.
Across town in Whiting Woods (off Honolulu Avenue west of Ramsdell Avenue) is the always-popular Nightmare in Whiting Woods, formerly Nightmare on Vista Court. This is the 15th year running for the haunted attraction set up in the yard and around the home of showrunner David Krohn.
“Fifteen years ago, my wife wanted more trick-or-treaters on our street when we lived over on Vista Court,” said Krohn. “And Gary Trousdale, my friend who has been doing this for over 20 years, did a haunted house in Northridge, so I said, ‘Let’s do a haunted house,’ and that’s how it started.”
The event is free of charge for guests, paid for by those involved in the show who gather set pieces a few at a time, year by year. They now have a collection of props and set pieces that are saved and used in subsequent shows. The big new addition this year is a two-story mansion that guests enter at the outset of the attraction. This new set piece is enormous and provides not only more walkthrough experience as guests traverse the hallways, but also the giant façade can be seen from the street and, when lit up at night, serves as a beacon to beckon guests in. This set, Krohn said, can be saved and repurposed as a dilapidated farmhouse next year, perhaps, and something different the year after. Thus the show grows every year.
“Please come, just attend,” said Krohn. “We do it because we want people to show up. We have a lot of fun doing it, and we do it because we want to be part of the community.”
The Nightmare in Whiting Woods is located at 413 Whiting Woods and will run Halloween night only, from sunset until approximately 11 p.m.
Another display worth visiting is located at the home of Craig Fisher at 4422 New York Ave. in La Crescenta. A giant pumpkin-headed ghoul towers over trick-or-treaters who are bold enough to approach the front door.
“I try to keep it on the scary side,” Fisher said. “Every year we have some kids who are afraid to come up driveway.”
In addition to the hanging scares, Fisher sets a frightful table with skeleton guests that trick-or-treaters need to pass. This year he added some new hanging items and skeleton dogs and skull lights.
“The biggest problem I have are the fog machines,” Fisher said. “It seems that they really only last one year and are done.”
The elaborate set up takes two to three days to set up but, to discourage pranksters, Fisher typically tears it all down by 10:30 on Halloween night.
Down the street, in the 3400 block of Prospect, almost all the neighbors on the cul de sac take part in greeting – and scaring – trick or treaters. For almost 30 years, kids and their parents have made the block a go-to stop for Halloween fun. Lawn displays and costumed candy-givers are ready to welcome and greet the nearly 400 trick or treaters.
And why do these folks go out of their way to create these displays?
“I do it for the community,” said Fisher. “My girls have long outgrown trick or treating, but I’m just a big kid at heart and love the enjoyment the decorations bring to the neighborhood. I want to be the house that people will always remember when they grow up.”