Schenectady County

Mall haunted house open for magic, fun

Part of Rotterdam Square Mall has been transformed into magical places including Little Red Riding H

Part of Rotterdam Square Mall has been transformed into magical places including Little Red Riding Hood’s house and Alice’s Wonderland.

The Schenectady Theater for Children used its space near the Sears entrance to create a child-friendly haunted house.

Miss Muffet, clutching an oversized stuffed spider, led visitors into the house, cautioning them not to touch the “old and fragile” walls, lest they tumble down. She said she did the best she could at fixing up the place.

“It’s so hard to get the dust in all the right places,” Muffet said.

Schenectady Theater for Children Haunted House

Rotterdam Square Mall (near Sears entrance)

Friday, 6:30 to 9 p.m. “very scary” performance for older children and adults

Saturday, 12:30 to 6 p.m., child-friendly show and 6:30 to 9 p.m., very scary

Sunday, 12:30 to 6 p.m., child-friendly show

Suggested donation: Adults: $5, children: $3

The owner of the house disappeared weeks, maybe months, ago but visitors were welcome.

In the next room, a witch asked, “Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?” She invited the visitors to pull up a chair and have a seat. But her last guest did not stay too long, she said, pointing to a skull on the chair.

In another room, a man operating a life-size court jester marionette asked, “Would you guys like to join the puppet troupe — no strings attached?”

There were a couple more surprises in store before children got to meet the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland fame and a few more characters.

“It was good for the kids. It wasn’t too scary,” said Bill Battaglia of Rotterdam who took his boys Nathen, 9, and Will, 5.

That was the idea, according to producer Dee Mulford.

“There really has never been a haunted house for little children that doesn’t make them cry,” she said. Mulford described their haunted house experience as more like an “odd dream” and it allows little children to build up their courage.

“We have no blood. There are no chain saws,” she said.

The Schenectady Theater for Children, which is in its 45th year overall and fourth year being housed in a 3,000-square-foot space at the mall, was able to reuse scenery from past performances. Scott R. Payne, a past director of shows, constructed the various rooms.

Mulford said the organization hoped to raise a little money from the event to help with its programs. The theater produces one show a year and performs in front of 3,000 children at Capital Region schools.

The theater company, which is made up of about 60 volunteers, also runs a two-week summer camp for children. One of the participants, 9-year-old Abby Verhayden of Rotterdam, was playing a little girl looking for a playmate in the haunted house.

“She’s really enjoyed it. It’s been a really wonderful experience for her,” said mother Margaret Verhayden.

Seven-year-old Nicholas Mendonca of Schenectady said it was not too scary for him. He admitted that he watches horror movies.

Some adults found it scary, though. Weslyn Shappy of Schenectady said she screamed when an “Alice in Wonderland’ character popped up in front of her.

Her daughter Emmalia was unfazed. “Can I go again, Mom?” she said.

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