WAHOO – Halloween isn’t just a day to hand out candy for Grove Dalton and his family. It’s a day to configure the yard of their Wahoo home into a scary maze designed for fright and delight.
For the third year, Dalton is creating a haunted yard at 649 West Second Street. It will be open Friday, Oct. 25 and Saturday, Oct. 26, from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
The maze will be a dark, winding journey through Dalton’s back yard, utilizing the play structure he has and new items he has built. Visitors will zig zag through rooms with creepy dolls, spider webs, a crime scene and various horror movie characters. The actors are Dalton’s family and friends, people who enjoy bringing a little Halloween fun to the community.
“We used 22 volunteers the last three years,” said Dalton. “This year, we’ll have about 30, I’m hoping.”
Dalton uses a combination of live humans and animatronics to bring his haunted yard to life. He has been collecting the menagerie for several years, purchasing items at garage sales.
It was a garage sale bargain that sparked Dalton’s haunted yard idea. He bought dozens of inflatable Halloween and Christmas decorations at a garage sale in Greenwood a few years ago.
“That really helped kick us off,” he said.
Their first haunted house in Wahoo was set up in his garage with just two animatronic characters. About 75 people enjoyed the spectacle, Dalton said.
The second year they moved the fun out to the yard. He uses tarps and black paper to create the maze.
“It gets bigger every year,” said Dalton.
It takes several months for Dalton to go from the planning stage to execution. He puts his ideas on paper, tweaks them, and then starts building. As a disabled veteran, Dalton must rely on his seven children and son-in-law to do a lot of the work. But they are eager to help.
The payoff for Dalton is when he sees the excitement on children’s faces every Halloween.
“Seeing the kids screaming, and then the smiles afterwards,” he added. “It’s kind of like Christmas morning.”
Dalton doesn’t ask people to pay to visit his haunted yard. Instead, he suggests visitors bring a can of food for the Saunders County Food Pantry.
“We don’t charge anything,” he said. “We just ask for a donation to the food pantry.”
Dalton goes all out to decorate his yard for Christmas as well. People love to drive by to view the sight.
“We set up the whole yard with Christmas ornaments,” he said. “Hundreds of vehicles come by. I love it!”