For three years, Sean and Shannon Mortimer have been scaring haunted house participants for a good cause. The occasion started out as an event for the neighbourhood children.
“My wife and I started doing the haunted house for our children and the children in our neighbourhood and each year it got bigger and bigger,” said Sean Mortimer. “The first year that we had the haunted house we were astonished by the amount of people that came through and donated to the charities. The number of people that came through last year was approximately 500.”
The transition from neighbourhood scare to full fledged Halloween haunt came when the Mortimers lost a close friend who used to help with the haunted house construction.
“The last few years that we resided in the Okanagan our dear friend Burt Jaegli would give up some of his hunting time and come and help us with building and decorating the haunted house,” said Mortimer. “It was a bit of a mystery to his family and friends seeing how Burt was an avid hunter and he was giving up his hunting time for Halloween. “Unfortunately our dear friend Burt passed away, so my wife and I decided we should show his family and friends exactly what he loved to do for Halloween,” he said. With the help of Ted Monfee and Marla Taylor, who were best friends with Burt, along with other friends and family who put in hours and hours of outstanding work and let us use their properties – that’s where the Sparwood Halloween began, with the great friends and family of Burt helping to give Sparwood its own Halloween haunted house in memory of Burt Jaegli.”
According to Mortimer, the event has changed over the years, offering a less-scary option and charity support.
“We have changed a few things throughout the year like adding some charitable support to the town of Sparwood,” he said. “And trying to accommodate all the different ages of the children – we do understand that some children do not like to be very scared so we have allotted an early time for viewing for these children where we will have the animatronics turned off and the actors and actresses will not be present except for the witch at the front door.”
As for this year, Mortimer hopes to change the haunted house template up compared to previous years, but he believes that it also depends on the amount of building help he has and if the weather cooperates.
The building of the house requires seven to 10 people and 20 to 25 actors and actresses during hours of operation.
Mortimer hopes to have the haunted house open on Oct. 30 and 31. The haunted house is at 300 Michel Creek Rd. Sparwood.
“We would again this year like to accept donations for brain injury research and to support the young children of Sparwood in building their skate park. We will also have a box if anyone would like to donate non-perishable food items to the Sparwood food bank,” he said. “We would like to open the doors for one hour between 6 and 7:30 p.m. for the non-scare factor for the small children and as soon as we get them through and it’s dark we will start with the typical scary haunted house. We will be shutting down each night at 10 p.m. with a fireworks display on Halloween night after closing. Thank you in advance for everybody’s help and we wish that everybody will have a fun and safe time.”