The holiday of chaos of Halloween

Craig couple puts a year of planning into annual event

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Halloween means trick-or-treating, costumes, pumpkin carving and scary movies, but Craig youth weren't getting the full experience of the holiday without a haunted house -- and that's something Mark and Amy Leier stepped in to change.

The Craig couple has taken the lead in creating an annual haunted house for the past six years.

"It seemed like the first year we did it, no one else was doing (a haunted house)," Amy said. "Now, it's become a tradition."

Amy usually dresses as a dummy and creates a room filled with stuffed monsters, so that when children walk by they are frightened by the one monster that moves.

"I look forward to it all year long," Amy said. "We had it planned out last year."

Her affinity for that type of setup probably came from youthful Halloween experiences when her mother would create a haunted house in the garage and dress as a vampire and lie still in a coffin until a child reached for the candy in the bowl on her stomach. Then she'd reach up and grab at their hand.

Amy said her mother got her every time, even after she'd seen her dress up and climb into the coffin.

"I'd seen her set it up, but it still scared the crap out of me and I went running out of the garage," Amy said.

The Leiers create a similar experience for Craig youth -- and adults.

Each year they spend about a week setting up. That's the easy part, they say, and the one they usually have enough volunteers for. The cleanup is the hard part, which is why Mark and Amy, through their business, Chaos Ink, provide commemorative T-shirts to all those who help with the cleanup.

Those brave enough to tour the haunted house leave with their pulse racing after traveling through darkened twists and turns that are lit by strobe lights. Props in every corner leave people to wonder which are fake and which ones will jump out as you pass. The tour includes a medical room, complete with a doctor that no HMO would cover. His victims are usually scattered about.

Money raised from the haunted house is donated to a charity, which for the past few years has been the Craig Rotary Club.

But that's not the reason they do it.

"It's the only time I get to be scary," Amy said. "I'm nice all the other times.

"I think I have more fun than the kids do."

Though Halloween is one of Amy's favorite holiday's, she doesn't do much outside of helping to organize and prepare the haunted house.

"This is enough," she said, pointing to the monsters and the fake blood-spattered walls of the haunted house.

The hardest part, Amy said, is "working with bargain basement materials."

The Leiers read books and get on the Internet to get ideas about the haunted house, but most of the props for the haunted house are scrambled together using odds and ends.

Putting together a haunted house costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time.

"But it's so fun when you get to make kids cry," Amy said.

Chaos Ink donates money toward the construction of the haunted house and the materials are used year after year. Others contribute time or money, including Samuelson's Hardware, which has given materials every year.

The goal, Mark said, is for a different group of people to "adopt" each room and put the time and money into putting it together.

That would give the Leiers the support --in both time and money -- they need to put together a successful haunted house.

Until then, "we just wing it," Amy said. "It just comes together."

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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