Last year around this time, the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department was collecting donations of cleaning supplies to help with the flood-recovery effort. This year, the fire company has once again put out a call for donations, but for a much happier reason: The department’s haunted house, halted last year by the tropical storms that left much of the town submerged, will be back in operation in October, and decorations are needed.
The much-anticipated haunted house was part of the town’s Halloween celebration for seven or eight years before Irene and Lee crashed the party.
All the supplies that were used to transform the pavilion behind the firehouse into a house of horrors were stored in a shed that took on water during the tropical storms. Mold ruined everything inside, so organizers are starting from square one.
At a glance
Donations needed for Rotterdam Junction Fire Department’s haunted house (To set up a time to drop off donations, call the fire department at 887-5575):
• Strobe lights, black lights
• Hay bales
• Dark-colored cloth
• Paint, including glow-in-the-dark varieties
• Spooky decorations
• Old picture frames
• Old dolls
• Fake cobwebs
Tour the haunted house at Rotterdam Junction Firehouse on Route 5S on the following dates, if you dare:
• Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27, 6 to 9:30 p.m.
• Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 30-31, 6 to 9:30 p.m.
• Oct. 31, 6:15 p.m., costume parade, starting at Woestina Elementary School on Route 5S. A costume contest and refreshments will follow at the Rotterdam Junction firehouse.
Spooky decorations of all sorts are being sought for the effort, as well as plywood, tarps, lighting and paint.
Those who dare to enter the haunted house in late October will be led on a guided tour of the maze-like “house,” then on a scary walk on a path through the woods.
There is no entry fee.
Volunteers began preparations for the haunted house Sunday and will likely work right up until the night the terrifying tours begin.
“We got the woods cleared out. A lot of flood debris got mingled in there, so we had to clear all of that out. Now we’re working on getting the layout set up for the actual haunted house portion of it,” said fire Chief Shawn Taylor, who has headed the haunted house project since it began.
About eight volunteers will help build the spooky structure and eight more will decorate it, Taylor estimated. Between 35 and 40 people dressed as goblins and ghouls will staff the woods and the house when it’s open for tours.
“Typically it’s a Freddy Krueger-Jason theme,” said Taylor, who makes an annual appearance as Freddy Krueger, the razor-fingered serial killer in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” film series.
“David Miller, the creator for Freddy Krueger — he does all the mask and the makeup art for the movies — they had actually donated the whole costume to me probably eight or nine years ago. It’s the real deal. It’s one of the movie stunt masks. It’s pretty cool,” Taylor said.
Candra Kimball, an EMT with the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department who is helping with the haunted house this year, is eager to see it up and running again.
“It was kind of one of those things that the entire neighborhood looked for. It wasn’t just the neighborhood kids. The adults, I think, enjoyed it as much as the kids did,” she said.
Having monsters and witches roaming the fire department grounds will be a welcome sign of the town’s recovery.
“We were determined to do it this year,” Kimball said. “It was time to show that we’re back to normal. We’re ready. Halloween last year in town wasn’t normal. We had no kids. The streets weren’t safe yet for kids to trick-or-treat on. So this year, we’re ready to show our community’s back together. It’s time.”