Carlson Manor Haunt returns with asylum theme

Chad Carlson stands in front of the facade of the Carlson Manor at 54 Erica Drive in Lacombe. The family-friendly haunted house will be open three nights this year - Oct. 29, 30 and 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe) jpg, LG

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The Carlson Manor is apparently more than just a spooky mansion that appears in Lacombe around Halloween – it’s an abandoned asylum.

At least, that’s the narrative local Halloween enthusiast Chad Carlson has created for his haunt at 54 Erica Drive.

While no new patients are being admitted, for three nights only – Oct. 29-31 – they will be accepting donations for the Lacombe Food Bank and taking those looking to get their fright on through a tour of the mansion turned home for the insane.

It’s the fourth year Carlson has created his haunt in his garage, but it’s the first time there’s a story to go with it.

“It’s a story that starts as a house then builds to an asylum, and a group breaks into the asylum – I just wanted to add so much more detail and depth to it. It just kind of came to me, in all honesty,” Carlson said. “I’m excited about the new theme, the detailing that’s going on right now – it’s going to be a different feel this year, for sure.”

The story, as per Carlson’s imagined version of an Oct. 31, 1983 issue of The Lacombe Globe, goes back to 1919, when the manor’s first owner and his family disappeared. Despite rumours of “odd things occurring around its grounds,” the county purchased the building and turned it into the Lacombe County Asylum. In 1945, tragedy struck again when a prisoner escaped his cell and attacked 13 people. The patient, he says, was never seen again and the asylum was boarded up and left to rot, until five people hired Preliminary Madam Loretta to conduct a seance in the abandoned asylum. The six disappeared.

Chad Carlson poses in a stock out front of the Carlson Manor Haunt at 54 Erica Drive in Lacombe. The family friendly haunted house, in support of the Lacombe Food Bank, will be open three nights this year – Oct. 29, 30 and 31 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe) jpg

Naturally, authorities asked the public to stay away from the grounds, but now, in 2019, Carlson is inviting thrill-seekers in to perhaps figure out themselves what happened to the six people.

They’ll walk through the seance room where Madam Loretta was seen last – and perhaps can still be seen – as well as through creepy, narrow halls filled animatronic surprises, an industrial freezer, as well as an admitting area and shock therapy room, leaving plenty of opportunity for people of all ages to get their fright on this Halloween.

“I think one of the differences that sets us apart from traditional haunted houses is that we really embrace special effects – fog machines and everything else. that plays a really big part in what we do,” said Carlson. “There’s a lot of people that have fears and we want to play on those fears.”

As always, however, the “scare” level of the haunt can be adjusted. Parents are encouraged to go through first to decide if their children will be comfortable, and there’s options to go through with flashlights, lights on, or have no jump-scares from the many “spooktacular” volunteers.

The Carlson Manor will be open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 29-Thursday, Oct. 31. Admission is free, but food bank donations are encouraged. Hot chocolate will be served, and on Halloween night, they’ll have chips and non-food treats for those with food allergies.

“For us, it’s a great holiday because we do this for the food bank,” he said. “What better time than to drive all this food in than right before Christmas?”

For a second year, the Carlson Manor has sponsors, including Moe’s Pizza, which feeds the volunteers who help run the haunt, and NOWCO Home Hardware, which helped with some of the upgrades.

Jail House Escape
For those looking for scarier thrills, Jail House Escape, put on by Hesa’s Halls of Terror, is also returning for a second year in support of the Lacombe Firefighter’s Association and the Make A Wish Foundation.

Held at the old police station at 5211 50 Ave. – a venue rumoured to actually be haunted – the goal will be to legitimately scare those who pass through.

It is geared towards older thrillseekers, but parents are strongly encouraged to go through the haunt first to decide if it’s OK for their children.

The haunt runs Oct. 25-26 and Oct. 31 from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. Admission is $8 per person, or $15 for two.

The seance room is one of the first visitors to Carlson Manor will see, but there has been upgrades from previous years. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe