Call it Ahwatukee’s scariest signature event.
On one weekend a year, a haunted house is held at the unlikeliest place – the Ahwatukee Community Swim and Tennis Center, 4700 E. Warner Road.
The center is hosting its 16th annual haunted house and hayride 6-9 p.m. Oct. 27-29.
If you’re going to be scared, plan on going from 7:30 p.m. on. The first 90 minutes is the “less scary” time for families with young children.
This year, several high school clubs are taking a great role in the event, said Susan Hyden, the center’s director.
“We always have high school students show up to help, but some want to take a greater role,” she said, adding that those groups include the Horizon Honors Key Club, Cactus Aquatics Swim Team and the Ahwatukee High School Tennis Club.
Between 80-100 high teenagers show up to volunteer over the three-day event work as guides, hayride helpers and in other capacities.
We have all the costumes for them and usually have people who do makeup,” Hyden said. “We feed them. Get pizza throughout the night and waters.”
Hyden said crews will be working this week and next to put together sets and a show aimed at producing the “eerie, heart-thumping, eye-closing, scream-curdling” thrills that people will experience with a hayride and a visit to the haunted house.
“Visitors will enjoy a haunted hayride through the park and encounters with, well, various creatures of the night,” she added.
If you think she’s exaggerating, consider this: “My staff and I have on many occasions taken families behind the scenes to prove to their kids that this is not real and the ‘zombies’ or other creatures are just very nice high school students or adults.”
Visitors who don’t find the scary sights stomach-turning will have a variety of treats to buy from a bake sale, caramel apples, hot chocolate and apple cider and other goodies. Hyden added that haunted house visitors also will get a free candy treat.
“This is a great community event,” Hyden said. “People will be amazed by what we have accomplished from all the time and efforts of my staff. People are always amazed at how we can transform our park into such a Halloween attraction.”
Admission is $9 for adults and $6 for kids 8 years old and younger.
Proceeds benefit the center’s youth programs and park improvements.