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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 4 years ago

Ocoee Haunted House frightens thousands for seventh year

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by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

The house at 951 Ocoee Apopka Road in Ocoee had been in disrepair for years when the City of Ocoee acquired it years ago. Today, it remains in disrepair, for use of the city in its seventh annual haunted house.

“Eventually, it’s going to be a softball complex,” said Dan Abdo, recreation supervisor for Ocoee Parks and Recreation. “We only have two fields right now, and some of the other areas are starting to get four fields, so we bought this property.

“So we have this house, and we need to keep saving money to build the softball complex, so the city asked me to come up with ideas. When I saw the house, I said, ‘I think it speaks for itself that we do a Halloween event out here. We had this old house that just looked creepy and decided to run with it.”

The house will be open to the public for $3 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25,.

Or, at least, all who dare to enter.

Some attendees among the roughly 1,000 each night prefer to settle for other activities in the yard around the house, such as hay rides, refreshments, games, a bounce house and a smaller haunted walk run by some Ocoee residents, Abdo said.

Those inside the house are left to their devices, with an array of ghoulish sights and sounds to terrify them, including around a dozen actors lurking in the shadows or plain sight, waiting to prey on guests’ terror and even chase them, he said.

“One year, we had a girl who got so scared, she ran down this hallway we had Michael Myers coming out of,” Abdo said. “He put his hand up to tell her to turn back, and she slammed the door on his fingers. It was quite amusing.”

Other features include strobe lights, a fog machine, a graveyard, caskets, a haunted elevator and various screaming, moving and lighting objects. One such object is a coat rack, which serves more of a purpose than merely hanging coats.

Late at night during this season, many of the contents of this house can become more than what they seem, whether in reality or just part of the mind.

“The house grows on you, and then it takes over your mind some nights. You start thinking things. You can imagine being in there by yourself. All of a sudden, something rustles, and then you start questioning yourself.”

Speaking of questioning themselves, will the city’s decision to ultimately demolish this house for a softball complex lead to angry ghosts and ghouls in future Halloweens?

“It’s gotten pretty big, so I think it is,” Abdo said. “I’m not going to lie—at first, I was happy that we were getting the complex, but now I’m thinking I don’t know if I want to get rid of the house. Can we build around this somehow?”

But that provides all the more motivation for Central Florida’s creatures of the night to brave the many rooms and halls of the house before it will be gone forever.

…Or will it?

NOTES

Ocoee Parks and Recreation encourages all participants to donate non-perishable food items at the event.

For additional information, please visit www.ocoee.org or call Ocoee Parks and Recreation at 407-905-3180.

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