Scare goes the neighbourhood
Jarita and Chad Carlson stand in front of their home - and haunted house lawn display - on Monday evening. Chad has been setting up a haunted manor walkthrough in his garage since August, which will be open to the public Oct. 28-31 from 6-9 p.m. (Chris Roberts, Lacombe Globe)
The Carlson Manor might cause some Lacombe residents to run away scared, but Chad and Jarita Carlson are hoping they drop off a donation for the Food Bank before doing so.
For the past six years Chad has been heavily decorating his front lawn during October in the lead up to Halloween while living in Stony Plain. After gradually expanding year after year, he began turning his home into a haunted house for people to visit free of charge on Halloween, provided they bring a non-perishable food item.
“It started out with a couple of props on the yard,” he said. “I used one of my old barbecues and used the rotisserie with a head on it. It made the front page of the local paper and caused a little controversy.
“The yard display has been toned down and is a little more family friendly.”
Inside the garage of their home on Erica Drive, however, resembles scenes from a horde of horror films – the Exorcist and Hellraiser to name a few. The walkthrough features several fright-inducing moments, and if it appears as though it has taken months to create, it’s because it has.
“I had to frame it out, design that, and then I had to put the canvases up, paint the canvases, run electrical – it’s been a lot of hours every night,” Chad said.
“She’s been very patient with me because I’ve been in the garage almost two hours every night.”
“Our baby is three months old and you’ve heard of a hockey widow – I’m a Halloween widow,” Jarita joked.
In the past, Chad set up his haunted house design with a Hell’s Kitchen theme.
“There was a kitchen with body parts – we do have a room in the haunted house that is based on that original concept,” he said.
He credits his love for Halloween to having an October birthday, as well as his love for theatre. In Stony Plain he managed his own production company, C2 Productions, and has plenty of experience with costume and set design.
As a kid, he would often build his own Halloween costumes.
“Now that I’m busy here in Lacombe, instead of doing the theatre thing my creative output is this. It’s my once a year show,” he explained.
In the past few years in Stony Plain, Chad and Jarita would get as many as 600 kids coming to their home on Halloween, while other neighbours began following suit and decorating their homes more. Halloween become more of a neighbourhood event.
“That’s kind of what we’re hoping for here,” he said.
This will be the first Halloween for the family’s three month old baby. Naturally, she’s shielded from the frightful scenes in the garage, but the family hopes to continue the tradition even as she gets older.
“My thought with the baby, my biggest hope for her growing up is that she learns the importance of kindness – I want her to be a kind, good person – and this is a way to show her that by example. That’s my contribution,” said Jarita. “It’s for a good cause.”
The Carlson Manor, located at 54 Erica Drive, will be open to the public Oct 28-31 from 6-9 p.m. with admission being a non-perishable donation to the Lacombe Food Bank.