MANATEE COUNTY — Summerfield Crest resident Chris Shaw always has loved Halloween.
But haunted houses — that’s a different story.
Shaw went through one as a child and ended up so scared that he avoided a repeat performance. But after his son, Hunter, 11, was born and developed a love for Halloween, Shaw decided to give haunted houses one more try — only this time he made it a point to be the one causing all of the fright.
“I hated haunted houses when I was kid and never wanted to go again,” Shaw said. “Now that I’ve gotten older, I don’t mind scaring others and making people surprised.”
This Halloween, Shaw will once again transform his garage into the House of Blood for all who dare to enter. This will be the eighth year Shaw and his wife, Darice, have held their haunted house, 12314 Mosswood Place. The haunted house, which will be open at 7 p.m., Oct. 31, will feature four different scenes, including a hospital scene, graveyard, an outdoor scene and a children’s room. Additionally, six to seven actors, ranging from middle school students to adults, and moving props will be set up throughout the haunted house.
Admission is free, but the Shaws will be collecting donations for Southeastern Guide Dogs.
“This is the most extensive one we’re having,” Chris Shaw said. “It’s pretty scary. It’s not your typical haunted house for the real little kids. It’s the high school kids that are (usually) really scared.
“We tend to get a lot of repeat customers, so we have to come up with something new every year,” he said. “When people walk out the door I want them to think, ‘Wow, that was really cool.’”
Just a few miles away, River Club resident Joe Pfeiffer is busy preparing for his eighth-annual Haunted Maze, which will be open from 6:45-9 p.m., Oct. 31, at 6902 River Birch Court.
Twenty-two scenes, featuring about 43 characters, including a bride, a clown, a dentist and skeletons, and eight actors, will be set up inside Pfeiffer’s three-car garage. Additionally, the haunted maze will feature black lights, strobe lights, black walls and a fog machine, among other effects.
“It’s kind of an anomaly in the neighborhood,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s something the kids really get a kick out of.”
Admission is free, but Pfeiffer will collect donations for UNICEF.
Pfeiffer has been doing haunted events for about 20 years and has even written a book titled “Give Them a Real Scare This Halloween.”
He started creating Halloween scenes in his front yard before completing his first haunted maze eight years ago. Since then, Pfeiffer has added more characters and props to his display.
Pfeiffer typically begins constructing his scenes two weeks before Halloween and spends about 50-60 hours putting everything together and training the actors.
“It’s a challenge; in this environment, building from the ground up takes a lot of time,” Pfeiffer said.
This will be the final year Pfeiffer will transform his garage into a haunted maze. Next year, Pfeiffer plans to do a commercial haunt either here locally or in Atlanta.
“It’s a lot of work for just one day,” Pfeiffer said.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
if you go
WHEN: 6:45-9 p.m., Oct. 31
WHERE: 6902 River Birch Court, River Club
ADMISSION: Free; donations will be collected for UNICEF.
WHEN: 7 p.m., Oct. 31
WHERE: 12314 Mosswood Place, Summerfield Crest
ADMISSION: Free; donations will be collected for Southeastern Guide Dogs.
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