By: Cory W. Berlekamp
For its second year in a row, Ghost Town and its haunted house is open to scare visitors in Findlay during the Halloween season.
During its off-season, Ghost Town hosts craft shows, antique dealing and flea markets. But starting Sept. 22, the western structures and old cabins are transformed in to a 30 to 40 minute walk of terror. This transformation is a labor of love by the people involved and is led by the Haunt Coordinator, Kevin Carpenter.
“I’ve been to a lot of haunts, and ours is a pretty scary haunt,” said Carpenter. “We have some high quality actors and some of these people have been acting [for] about 10 to 12 years.”
Carpenter, an antique dealer during the year, pauses his life every fall to make sure that Ghost Town is prepared to frighten thrill seekers time and time again. About five years ago, he partnered with John and Cheryl Larbus, owners of the facility, to help fix up Ghost Town when they bought it.
On location, every day since Aug. 28, Carpenter and other volunteers, such as actors, make-up artists, and friends, have been setting up props and running routines to make their haunts as scary as possible.
On any given night there are 40 to 50 actors in the haunted house and another 10 employees running the gates and helping run the show. Carpenter says the make-up staff has some unique experience.
“They’ve won awards, we even have one guy who’s worked on 11 horror movies,” Carpenter said. “We don’t use many masks and most of the actors spend from 3:30 p.m. till 7 p.m. getting their makeup put on them.”
The actors working the haunt are made up of an eclectic group of hobbyists who take time out of their lives to work the haunted house. Sarah Burnett, a surgical nurse and avid cosplay hobbyist, found an ad on Facebook that Ghost Town was looking for workers.
“When I heard that [Larbus] was buying the place and turning it into a haunt, I couldn’t resist,” said Burnett. “Halloween is just dressing up for kids you know what I mean? And that’s what it is for adults. It’s a chance to be somebody that you’re not.”
After last year’s success everyone on staff at Ghost Town is excited for this year’s festivities. Carpenter estimated in the six weekends they were open, over 3,000 people attended. With paid advertising on Facebook and ads on the radio, Carpenter is hoping to reach a large audience and do even better this year. He mentions that there were a lot of students coming in big groups from Bowling Green last year, and would like to see that from the community again.
Nick Lamb, a junior at the University of Findlay, says Ghost Town might be a fun thing to do with his roommates who run cross country. “We could just maybe go as a team to celebrate the end of a season,” said Lamb.
Ghost Town is south of Findlay at 10630 Hancock County Road 40 and is about a 15 minute drive from campus. The gates of Ghost Town open at 6:30 p.m. but the haunting does not start until it gets dark. The price of admission is $20 per person or $15 in groups of 10 or more. It is open on Friday and Saturday, but will stay open Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the last two weekends before Halloween.
Carpenter says there is no age limit on the haunt. “Last year we had a five-year-old who was able to make it all the way through,” said Carpenter. “On the other hand, we had over 40 adults back out and turn around during the haunt.”