A beloved local Halloween must-see is coming to a permanent end this year.
The owners of Heritage Haunted House, an annual pop-up haunted house attraction in Saanich, has announced that they will never again have ghouls and vampires and monsters of all kinds on display.
For the past 15 years, Carly Burbank and her family have converted their Saanich character house into a haunted house for visitors in October, but says they have decided to shut it all down after the set up for the show turned into “somewhat of a monster itself”.
“The months of set up involved requiring me to take months off work,” said Burbank in a message to Victoria Buzz.
‘We run our own business so that’s difficult, I also have some health issues that the stress was exacerbating.”
The entire display spanned 6,000 sq. ft. and encompassed a section of the home and yard. Each year featured a different theme (like classic horror films, phobias, Circus Freakshow, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more) with different props, costumes, and building materials sponsored by the family business, Dino Lab Inc.
“Porta potties were donated by coast Environmental Services. Knappett Industries donated materials and labour, Everything Old donated some creepy scene setting props. Food for the volunteers and candy donations have been supplied by Thrifty Foods, Quality Foods, Villages Pizza, Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Ali Baba Pizza, Domino’s, Costco and Dino Lab. We thank them all!” said Burbank.
Up to a thousand visitors would show up at Heritage Haunted House every year, and get spooked for a small fee.
All proceeds from that fee were donated to charitable organizations, most notably the Help Fill a Dream Foundation, for which the community raised over $20,000 over the years.
The popularity of the annual display has Burbank worried that too many people might be caught unawares by its closure and try to attend this year.
“We are worried that if the news doesn’t get out that we are closed that there will be a bunch of people crowded onto our small strata on Halloween and distancing rules will be impossible to enforce,” she added.
Even before COVID-19 hit, the growing number of visitors who wanted to go see the attraction were starting to pose a problem for the Saanich neighbourhood.
Burbank says last year, one of the Haunted House volunteers’ vehicles was the victim of a hit and run incident, and beer cans and cigarette butts had been left on neighbours’ properties.
“We just thought it was probably a good idea to get out before anyone got hurt or our neighbours started resenting the event,” said Burbank.
“We have some incredible memories of the haunt and wanted to end on a high note.”
Even though the event has been cancelled, Burbank hopes community members will continue supporting the Help Fill a Dream Foundation and other charities with regular donations.
The Saanich property will still be decked out with its usual family-friendly Nightmare Before Christmas display between October and January this year for anyone who wants to drive by and check it out.