Christmas decorations are on display at most major retail businesses, which could only mean Halloween is right around the corner. With the ghoulish holiday of costumes, trickery, and candy quickly approaching, people are wondering what mischief there is to get into this season.
While it is easy to get distracted by pumpkin spice everything, it is important to remember all of the seasonal attractions that come along with this time of the year.
One of the longest-running haunted attractions in the area, Jaycees Haunted House, will once again welcome thousands to their lair of scares this Halloween season.
The Portsmouth Area Jaycees moved into their current building in 1978 and its members have hosted the annual scare every year since. The house has won dozens of awards and has received national attention.
The Jaycees Haunted House is one of the longest running scares and continues to operate under a slim budget, since no profit is made from the event for its continuation. All proceeds from the event go into the community, or into keeping the lights on at Jaycees. The event continues to be the group’s most instrumental fundraiser.
“We do things a little bit differently here,” Curtis DePuy, public relations director for Portsmouth Area Jaycees, explained. “We do scenes and skits, whereas most places rely on automatronics, and pop-outs, and that sort of stuff.”
After being involved in Jaycees for eight years, and helping behind the scenes of many haunted houses, DePuy says he is stepping down, so a new generation of leaders can take over. He is going out with a bang, however, by presenting his very own room in the haunted house, which he hadn’t done before.
“It feels different, to be stepping up from behind the scenes after all these years,” DePuy said. “I’ve usually spent my time running sound and video and stuff like that. To step into a room is a challenge I am looking forward to. On top of that, I am competing with my daughter for best room, too. During her time here, she won an award for having the best room three years in a row.”
DePuy says he looks forward to his room each night, which features a very frightening scene involving dolls and basic theatre effects. His scene is also nostalgic, like most of the treatment given to the Jaycees Haunted House, by paying tribute to past members and those who have carried the organization to where it is today.
DePuy said he had only recently been considering leaving the organization. He said that it felt like it was time, because a strong group of younger individuals had finally been established and he felt comfortable with them carrying the Portsmouth Area Jaycees onto better things.
“It is bittersweet to be leaving, but we have some good kids to take over,” DePuy said. “It is kind of like what the Boy Scouts say, you just go into it and hope to leave it a better place than when you found it.”
DePuy said that he believes the haunted house is a good one this year, with a total of six scenes and a dozen scares in between them.
“I feel like the strength of the rooms this year makes this one of the best haunted house concepts we’ve had since I’ve been here,” DePuy said. “When you start planning the entire thing, you start to think that certain things might not work, and you eventually have to change them two or three times. We don’t have this season. I think we have a pretty strong house.”
Jaycees has also changed things up a little this year by hosting a few events on their first floor as well, such as card readings.
Jaycees will also be welcoming kids to the haunted house for a special Jaycees Kids Day event, where kids can tour the house with the lights on to see how things work. The date for the event is yet to be determined.
The show will run until the end of October, providing scares for thousands. The haunt opens at 8 p.m. each Friday and Saturday and will provide tours until the final victim has the opportunity to experience the haunted house. General admission is $8. Jaycees Haunted House is at 2033 Gallia Street, Portsmouth, Ohio.
Reach Joseph-Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.