BREWSTER, N.Y. -- A bunch of "goofy grown-ups" -- the words of Wells Woods Lane resident Laurie Manning -- are behind the Brewster Yard Haunt , now in its 14th year.
It all started, innocently enough for Manning when, upon seeing her neighbor hang up his Halloween decorations in 2002 when his son left for college, urged him to continue to make his house fun -- and she would join him, taking it, "up a notch."
Other residents in the former Wells Estate area heard about the challenge and added their own spooky decor. It didn't take long for their collaboration, located down the block from St. Lawrence O'Toole and St. Andrew's on Prospect Street, to become a Brewster destination. So much so that streets are blocked off to accommodate the crowds.
Last Halloween, the neighborhood attracted more than 1,500 people and gave out about 90 pounds of candy. Manning said folks have come from as far as Virginia.
Set-up for the event begins in late September and includes an elaborate graveyard, gruesome pillars of pain, a demoniacal Dr. Demento’s laboratory and other creepy scenes. Almost everything is handmade by Manning as well as her fellow partners in crime -- neighbors Kevin Kennedy, Michelle Piniella, Brent Sears, Morgan Sears, Karen Anias, Frank Gilliland and Barb McViegh.
The cast of characters have changed over the years, said Manning. Right now the group numbers about eight to ten families.
Admission is free, though the group does ask guests to bring cans of food or other non-perishables for donation to the local food pantry.
Though getting dressed up is part of the fun -- for the grown-ups who run the place, that is -- being scared is something the group is sensitive to. "We know some people are entertained by being scared but others aren't," said Manning, "So we always have two people at the front entrance greeting visitors. Those folks don't wear scary makeup and if our neighbors see us holding a child's hand as we go up the walkway, they know to stop what they are doing and take off their masks."
More often, however, kids come to be scared. In fact, said Manning, many like returning year after year. The best, she said, is when they say, "I was scared last year but not this one."
The 14th Annual Brewster Yard Haunt will be held rain, shine, hurricane or snowcopolypse from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m on Monday, Oct. 31. See details on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pg/byh2013/
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