Sundance Haven haunted house returns

Matt Gardner
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The haunted house that thrilled and chilled Prince Albert residents last Halloween is back for another round.

Sundance Haven youth workers Charmain Smith (left) and Carrie McCann stand outside the group home under their inflatable Grim Reaper “George.” The ominous decoration will soon be keeping watch outside the Halloween haunted house at the Army and Navy Hall on 11th Street West.

Sundance Haven, a non-profit organization that serves as a group home for young girls, is teaming up with the Anavets Unit 222 for its second annual Halloween haunted house. All proceeds raised from the event will go towards the Sundance Haven travel fund.

“The travel club is where we can take our girls out of province on an extended holiday,” Sundance Haven youth worker Charmain Smith said. “Like this year we did ten days in B.C. … We also do a two-week camping trip, and that one is so that … (the girls) can have friends with them, they can have family members come out and hang out for a couple weeks. All of our staff … try to incorporate our own families into that.”

Girls at Sundance Haven fit within an age range of 11 to 18 years old. Many have never journeyed outside of Saskatchewan or even Prince Albert, making the travel club a unique way for them to see more of the world.

Along with its annual garage sale, the haunted house is the single biggest fundraiser for Sundance Haven. The travel club is funded entirely by these two events, whereas the bulk of the home’s activities are covered by their partnership with the Native Coordinating Council and the Ministry of Social Services.

Their haunted house event began last year when the Mann Art Gallery donated a smorgasbord of Halloween supplies after realizing they lacked sufficient time to set up the haunted house every year amidst competing events. The gallery received two sheds’ worth of props, costumes, lights and smoke machines.

“Last year we asked around for a location,” youth worker Carrie McCann said. “The guy that owned the meat market offered his location (at the) Wheel-a-While … We set it up and had a blast. It was so much fun.”

This year we’re doing something a little bit different. The first two hours of each show are going to be more kid-friendly. Charmain Smith

The 2011 haunted house proved a smashing success, with many residents making repeat visits. Many parents even held back from bringing their children, believing the display to be too scary with the screaming witches and deliberate blurring of the line between actors and mannequins.

Sundance Haven has incorporated the lessons from its previous haunted house and this year promises a fun experience for visitors of all ages.

“This year we’re doing something a little bit different,” Smith said. “The first two hours of each show are going to be more kid-friendly. So we’ll have more lights on, we won’t have it pitch-black, there won’t be as much screaming and jumping out and scaring people, things dropping from the ceiling, things like that. It’ll be a more gentle show.

“Then our last evening, on actual Halloween night, the last two hours are (an) adult show only from 10 (p.m.) ’til 12. So that show is really going to be where we’re going to be able to let off some steam.”

A Very Haunted House takes place from Saturday, Oct. 27 to Wednesday, Oct. 31 in the basement of the Army and Navy Hall at 25-11th Street West. Visitors are welcome from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, 1-10 p.m. on Sunday (first four hours kid-friendly), 4-11 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and 4 p.m. to midnight on Halloween (with the last two hours adults-only).

Admission is $3 at the door.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Native Coordinating Council, Ministry of Social Services Mann Art Gallery Very Haunted House

Geographic location: B.C., Saskatchewan

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