New attractions, new themes, good bad food
By: KELSIE FERGUSON
Haunted houses started opening up around the 1970s and Niles Haunted House (NHH) opened in 1974. This year they celebrate “40 Years of Fear” and speculate they may be one the oldest haunts in the United States.
“Very few haunts throughout the country can say they’ve been open for 40 years, I haven’t found any but I’m sure there are at least some that are older,” said Scream Park Manager Pete Karlowicz.
NHH opened their doors for the first time in a small half-acre plot on Bell Road. Today their current location provides over 44 acres of land for all their haunting needs.
“We’ll never run out of room,” Karlowicz said.
During those 40 years NHH has been running their haunt mainly on volunteer work. Different organizations donate hours of acting and in turn when the money earned is added up, they get to choose the organization they wish to donate to.
According to the haunt’s records some of those organizations that have worked the haunt include; Animal Service League, with $1,050 donated; Howard Fire Association with $2,300 donated; and the Make a Wish Foundation volunteers earned the most with $7,175 donated.
In total NHH provided $82,714 to various charities and organizations in need in 2011.
“This year we will welcome interior visitor number 1.5 million, yes we do keep track of everyone who visits the park,” said Karlowicz.
The haunt has more than five spooky attractions and for $30, one can purchase entrance in to all of the haunts available. If not individual purchases are available.
This year the haunt introduces the new Screamline, a zip-line attraction for adventurous guests to experience. In the midway there are also various games, food and a Dark Territory Haunted Hayride.
Don’t be surprised if you run into Death or Captain Jack Sparrow, two of the park’s icon characters.
“During the season there are hot dogs, pretzels, elephant ears, ice-cream, pizza, you name it, it’s delicious,” said Dennis Davis, who can be found acting as Captain Jack Sparrow throughout the property.
NHH is about 30 minutes from IU South Bend.
“South Bend people should definitely come here even if it’s a trip, it’s not all about getting scared and the adrenaline, it’s about benefiting a good cause while having a good time,” said the character Death created and acted by Aaron Smith, “I tell people who say they aren’t scared by haunted houses to still come, everyone has a friend, girlfriend that they can bring who will get scared and that can be a lot of fun too.”
“We’ve been rated over other venues students could go to by the MHC tour, they loved us more. (Midwest Haunters Convention) Also we were rated in the top 10 by Haunt World,” said Davis.
“We change everything every year, so you can come back every year and things will be different, most other haunts nearby don’t do that,” said Karlowicz, “We don’t define success based on how much money we raise, we just hope to have a good year and dry weather.”
The Niles Haunted House is located at 855 Mayflower Road in Niles, MI 49120. They can be contacted at (269) 445-9184. The website has a full list of attractions, prices and information at http://www.haunted.org.