Food bank donations are encouraged and accepted as a form of payment to keep the ghouls and goblins away while visiting the Carlson House. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)

Carlson House opens doors to brave visitors once again

Food bank donations are encouraged to keep the ghouls and goblins away while visiting

It’s that time of year again, when Chad Carlson, the crypt keeper at the Carlson House in Lacombe emerges from the darkness and begins stalking around his front yard.

The neighbours nervously peer out of their windows watching him as he drives stakes into the ground and calculates where to toss the bodies and string up the spider webs. They know he is planning his yearly disturbed display.

Each October, the Carlson House opens its graveyard to visitors who can claim candy as a reward for their bravery, if they manage to make it through.

The Carlson House has grown over the past few years out of hard work and love of Halloween and performing. Carlson graduated from Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts in Edmonton with a focus on acting and directing. In the past he has acted and directed in Edmonton fringe shows.

He admits he does have a few favourite items in the haunted display.

“Currently with the outdoor display I’d have to say the fortune teller hut. Even when it was an indoor haunted house this was my favourite. (It’s) so much fun decorating and using special effects in this tent.”

The neighbours have grown used to the screams and howls that seep their way from the Carlson house every October and Carlson has even managed to convert a few of them to the Halloween-side.

“We have the best neighbours ever. They are all really quite supportive and appreciate the cause. We have neighbours offer their driveways and yards every year. We also find our neighbours are adding more and more to their own displays” says Carlson. “I often term our street as the ‘Halloween Horseshoe.’ Edmonton had candy cane lane and we have the Halloween Horseshoe.”

Visitors to the Carlson House this year will notice a few new additions to the spooky scene.

“This year we have added quite a bit (including) two inflatables, three projections, a new tent with clown room, upgraded lighting, a boat decorated as a pirate ship and tons of little props here and there,” Carlson invites anyone brave enough to spot them all to come out.

Carlson says that it’s hard to put an exact number on the pieces that make up the Carlson House.

“Currently the big stats would be 12 projectors, two televisions, 20 animatronics and countless other props. There’s bones, tents, skeletons, spiders and rats,” says Carlson. “The list goes on. It’s quite complicated because the themes are revolving and we have a large inventory to allow change.”

Getting all the projectors is the biggest task. It takes at least 30 minutes each day to align everything correctly.

Carlson House is located at 54 Erica drive and is currently 95 per cent done and the full show will be up and running this weekend. Hours to visit are nightly up to Oct. 31, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. but Carlson notes the display is weather dependent.

Food bank donations are encouraged as a form of payment to keep the ghouls and goblins away while visiting the Carlson House.

“We love helping the food bank and seeing the excitement every night as I work on the haunt is big for me.”

Carlson says that on Halloween night they usually have about 1,000 visitors stop by.

“Keep in mind we do get repeats.”