BY DIANA BIERMAN
For the past 27 years, during the week before Halloween, the Stony Point Ambulance Corps holds a walk-through haunted house when all the ghosts and goblins come out to trick or treat.
The haunted house brings people from all over. It’s decked out with spooky décor, slanted walls, dead ends and much more. The house is run by volunteers dressed in eerie costumes, shouting, “boo!” or just staring menacingly at the people who dare to walk through.
This year, around 400 people, anywhere from ages 4 to 85, joined in the seasonal fun—and got their pants scared off of them in the process.
“We’ve tried to master it to a science,” said Marc Engelman, captain of the Stony Point Ambulance Corps, explaining how every year the group who works on putting the haunted house together becomes more aware of what riles up the crowd. “The most impressive scares are when not a word is said. It’s better to distract people with scary stares. It screws with their mind.”
Marc should know what does and doesn’t work after helping build the haunted house for 11 years. He tries to expand it every year—this year with a pitch-black maze and additional dead ends to increase the fright.
The original creator, though, is Marc’s father, Mark Engelman, who ran the first haunted house and has continued to do so annually. “It started on a shoestring, but it grew year after year,” he said. “It got bigger and bigger, crazier and crazier.” Mark also deemed it “the biggest and favorite community event.”
“Parents are sometimes more scared than their kids!” said Alan Horowitz, a volunteer at the Ambulance Corps. For the younger ghouls who may get scared easily—or even sometimes the parents in this case—there’s a party room filled with baked goods and games for them to enjoy.
“It’s a passion,” Marc, the son, said. He explained how the planning doesn’t start the week before; rather, when packing up the decorations and special effects, Marc keeps a little red binder with ideas and notes for next year’s haunted house, keeping track of what worked each year and ideas to come in the future.
Besides seeing the smiles and joy (and screams!) from visitors, another perk is that many teenagers who visit the haunted house ask if they can become a member at the Ambulance Corps. Also, since this event has been going on for over two decades, people who went in the beginning now bring their own children to share in the fun. The Corps have also noticed many regulars—even people from New York City—who come each year.
“It’s truly a labor of love,” Marc said.
To learn more about Stony Point Ambulance Corps, visit their website at www.stonypointems.com.