Hundreds of people are expected at Carters’ Haunted Halloween in Hay River on Oct. 31.
The Hay River tradition – presented every second year – features a trailer converted to a haunted house, a garden decorated with spooky characters and roamed by people in costume, and also a decorated kitchen to welcome younger children for treats if they don’t want to enter the haunted house.
“To me, this is Christmas. I love Halloween,” said Linda Carter, the driving force behind the Halloween spectacle.
“I think I love characters. I love being something at Halloween that I’m not,” she responded when asked why she presents Carters’ Haunted Halloween with help from her husband, Garry Carter, and a group of mostly relatives.
Haunted Halloween has its roots about 40 years ago when Linda Carter first decorated her kitchen for Halloween for children in her Morin Drive neighbourhood.
“I used to have it in my house when my kids were small,” she noted, adding a canvas carport was added later and the trailer over a dozen years ago.
Carter said Halloween was always a big deal when she was growing up in Hay River, and that eventually led to Haunted Halloween.
“I love the excitement and I like having people immersed in the creepiness of Halloween,” she said. “I like to see how they react.”
Carter said it is basically her project.
“I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like a video in my head,” she said. “I know that sounds ridiculous, but I can play everything out in my head every second year, what I want to do. And I bring it to life, and Garry helps me with it. I create the themes and the projects that are in the Haunted House. I design them and then the guys help me build them.”
Carters’ Haunted Halloween has proven to be very popular over the years.
Carter noted that 730 people were counted a few years ago venturing into the haunted house, and that number doesn’t include those who just wandered around the garden or the children who just entered her kitchen.
She said nine to 11 people are in character for the event, plus more run the haunted house.
“We have characters in the trees, or walking around or in the trailer,” she noted. “And some of them are even on the cars.”
Her daughter actually drives up from Red Deer to help out.
Carter noted that Haunted Halloween has been presented every second year for the past dozen years because it is so much work to prepare.
“It takes too much time and too much money,” she said.
Something new is added for each presentation.
However, there are also some old favourites, including Freddy Krueger from the film series A Nightmare on Elm Street.
“He’s one of the original ones,” said Carter.
This year, wolves and clowns will be highlighted, including with people dressed in character.
Carter said she doesn’t know how Haunted Halloween got so big.
“It’s extremely overwhelming, but it just grows and grows,” she said. “And we’ll just pass it on to the next generation, I guess.”
Admission to Carters’ Haunted Halloween is by cash donation. Aside from a couple of hundred dollars kept to work on the next presentation, the rest of the money is donated to various community groups.
Carters’ Haunted Halloween runs from 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 31.