The Earwoods started their annual tradition eight years ago as, of all things, a fifth birthday present for their son Brady. Since then, it's turned into a neighborhood staple, as dozens of local parents, children and family members spend October building scenery and assigning costumes.
When the haunted house opens Saturday and Monday, more than two dozen cast members will lurk inside — including Ken himself, who dresses as Freddy Krueger. The gate minders send in only two groups of three to five people at a time so they can't hear the commotion in the rooms ahead. In a typical year, the production draws up to 1,000 people, which means lines often stretching around the block.
"People come by in August and September and say, 'Are you doing the haunted house again this year?'" Ken said. "They get excited about it."
Ken brought me on a tour of the house-in-progress Tuesday as half a dozen residents worked on it, and for the sake of surprise, I won't give away any more of what's inside. But I will say that the project is an impressive feat of community organizing.
To ensure a solid crowd every Halloween, the Earwoods oversee a grass-roots PR effort, with helpers giving out fliers at school and church and advertising on Facebook. Many of their yearly visitors drive in from out of town. And the project has forced others on the block to step up their Halloween activity, according to Teri.
"Now our neighbors have to go get extra candy because of the haunted house," she said. "They run out."
City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
What: Earrywood Haunted House
Where: 5631 Serene Drive, Huntington Beach
When: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday
Information: (714) 932-7700