On chilly October evenings, screams of fright can be heard on a street corner in North Vancouver, where eerie tombstones and ghoulish creatures cover the dimly lit front yard.
The screams are coming from children making their way through the Haunt of Edgemont, an elaborate Halloween display where visitors walk through the yard, shed, and garage of Trevor Watson and Jodie Blank’s property. This year, the pair have dedicated their spare time since mid-July to constructing the props and decorations for this year’s 12th annual Haunt. The display started in 2006 as little more than ordinary Halloween decorations in their front yard.
They’ve dedicated so much time to this project each year because they believe it is an important contribution to the neighbourhood and want to keep the scary components of Halloween alive.
“When did Halloween get all commercial and cute?” Watson says. “I remember growing up and Halloween was supposed to be your spooky time, your scary time.”
As community engagement continues to disappear from modern urban life, people are craving a community connection. Halloween has proven to be an ideal opportunity to create these connections, with events like Fright Nights and other family run haunts happening all over Metro Vancouver. News organizations like the Vancouver Sun and the CBC have been tracking the best Halloween events and neighbourhoods for a number of years in an effort to create connections between Halloween enthusiasts.
This might be why every year, hundreds of people from the Vancouver area attend Watson and Blank’s Haunt.
Carissa Boudreau lives in the Edgemont neighbourhood and came to see the display last week. She believes events like this are important for the community.
“I just think it’s fun for kids and adults alike, to just create moments and memories for everyone,” she says.
The beginning of the Haunt takes visitors into a greenhouse with a grotesque alien and its egg inside. After that, the shed is filled with deranged clowns. The Haunt finishes in the garage with the most elaborate display, a series of rooms filled with bloodied mannequins and severed heads.
It’s a gory and graphic display, and many adults and children don’t make it as far as the last part of the Haunt because they’re too scared to continue.
Attending the Haunt is free, but Watson and Blank accept donations for the Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. Last year they raised $5,700 for the provincial charity.
Watson and Blank estimate that they spend $2-$3,000 each year on props, equipment, and candy.
Blank says that it’s the “creative factor” of coming up with new decorations and designs year after year that keeps her interested in creating the Haunt.
“The reward is, for me, just people coming in and appreciating it,” Watson says. “We get a lot of positive feedback.”
You can check out the Haunt of Edgemont until the end of October, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 12-9:30 p.m. weekends.