Carlson Manor serving up scares in Lacombe this Halloween

Chad Carlson stands out front of the Carlson Manor haunted house, which is opening to the public this weekend. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Prepare to get your fright on with the family this Halloween as the Carlson Manor opens its doors once more.

For a third year, the haunt at 54 Erica Drive will serve up scares for all ages and collect donations for the Lacombe Food Bank. Put on for just three nights, it’s become an anticipated production and spectacle for the community – which is exactly what Chad Carlson, a local Halloween enthusiast with a theatre background, is going for.

“This is my show; this is my stage production,” he said. “My whole goal is to try and tell a story with this haunted house – it may not be there yet, but there will eventually be a narrative and a story you can follow.”

Carlson’s enthusiasm for Halloween began simply with having a birthday in October, which resulted in many Halloween-themed parties growing up, as well as attending the Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts, where he’d once planned to pursue a theatre career.

Eventually ending up in the trades instead, he couldn’t quite put his theatre-loving side to rest and ended up frequenting Edmonton’s popular Fringe Festival in the summer, and creating Halloween displays, such as “Hell’s Kitchen” in the fall, which morphed into a haunted house when he lived in Stony Plain, Alta.

Moving to Lacombe, there were less theatre opportunities, so he really began focusing on Halloween, and thus Carlson Manor opened its doors in the community.

One of Chad Carlsons many animatronics peaks from behind an aptly engraved headstone in the graveyard decorating the lawn of Carlson Manor at 54 Erica Drive in Lacombe. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

Featuring a haunted graveyard and campsite out front, as well as an intricate “haunted house” facade, the inside of the house features a séance room, boiler room, living area, a hallway littered with creepy crawlies, as well as a dining room. This year, he’s changed up a few things, including adding a carnival room towards the end of the haunt, more projectors and made improvements in a few different areas.

As well, for the first time, Carlson Manor has a trio of sponsors to enhance the city’s first haunted house. Nowco Home Hardware, Moe’s Pizza and Good Neighbour Coffee have all joined the cast, so to speak, in a supporting role, and references to each are hidden throughout the haunt.

“I’m quite excited this year to have the sponsors and the support. We’ll have Good Neighbour Coffee – they’ve donated coffee, which we’ll be serving (on Halloween). Moe’s has donated food for volunteers… and with Home Hardware sponsoring us, I was able to change a lot of the bulbs to LED this year.”

When speaking to the Lacombe Globe, the house wasn’t quite finished so there may be more surprises to come, but it will be finished in time for the weekend.

While the narrative within the haunted house may not be fleshed out just yet, there is the feel-good story in giving back to the community, and dishing out scares so others can serve up food come the Christmas season.

“The best part of this whole thing is just giving back and the amount of food we bring in for the food bank. The more food we can put on people’s tables for Christmas is awesome,” he said.

“It really is about the community.”

The Carlson Manor is located at 54 Erica Drive. The outdoor light display runs nightly from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., while walk throughs will be held Oct. 27-28 from 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. and Halloween night, Oct. 31 from 6 p.m until 9 p.m.

Admission is a suggested food bank donation, and coffee and hot chocolate, as well as treats for the kids will be given out on Halloween night.

As always, the “scare” level of the haunt can be adjusted.

“This has the option for really scary, people jumping out at you all the time, or not scary at all – we’ve had families where we’ve given them flashlights to go through, or turned on the overhead lights,” he said. “We try to make it more family orientated.”

The seance room is one of the first visitors to Carlson Manor will see. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

Skeletons are frequent throughout the Carlson Manor, including this one who is shackled to the wall. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe