Halloween has always been a time for people to go door-to-door decked out in their best costumes to receive the most amount of candy they can.
For some, Halloween is a time where they try to give back to their neighbors a Halloween experience to be remembered for years to come.
Take Ahwatukee residents Mike and Jenifer Corey, for example.
For the past nine years this couple has gone all out each year with their haunted house, which they build from scratch.
“We just like Halloween and the more we got into it the more we acquired different stuff. It keeps growing and growing,” Mike said.
But this isn’t any poor excuse of a haunted house that’s put together the night before Halloween.
Construction begins in early October, when Corey and Jenifer gather different decorations to be riddled throughout the frightening maze, from zombie babies hanging from the ceiling to activated characters jumping out as people move along the foggy area to people working inside scaring the daylights out of them.
Mike said the haunted house has been a big hit in their neighborhood, at 4120 E. Thistle Landing Drive, and they also get people from all over the Valley to come out, adding that the experience is not for the faint of heart.
“It takes quite a while to get through. It’s not like a thing where you’re in and out in 30 seconds, we have had people get lost in there that we have to guide out,” Mike said. “It’s a very scary haunted house… We tell the kids that it’s going to be scary when they go in there.”
The couple transforms their garage into their own fright dungeon, along with building an extension stretching out to their carport making the haunted house much bigger and scarier. They build the extension with wooden pillars with help from their neighbor, Jason Houle, who has an engineering background.
“It’s incredible the amount of wood that goes to building this thing because not only does it run in front of the house, but it runs along the side, too,” Mike said. “When most people go through the haunted house, they actually think that they are in our house.”
The design for the extension is drawn out by Jenifer, who has an extensive background in architecture.
Along with providing a haunted house for their neighbors, which is a one-night event on Halloween, Mike and Jennifer cater the event by providing food and drinks for anyone and everyone who wishes to be part of the night’s festivities.
To put the icing on their cake of horror, the family does not charge a single dime to participate in the haunted house, or to feast on food.
Mike said the amount of food they buy to be given out ranges upwards of $3,000 each year, feeding nearly 1,200 people.
“It’s become a huge community event,” Jenifer said.
Ahwatukee residents Henry and Melissa Ibarra also transform their quaint home, 4641 E. Frye Road, into a house of terror on Halloween night.
The couple builds their own haunted house inside their garage and invite the entire community to enjoy the night.
Like the Corey family, the Ibarras make preparations ahead of time to build their haunted house from scratch, and have done so for many years. The tradition dates back 10 years ago when they lived in Maricopa and had lines of people forming outside to enter the house of horror.
Henry decided to create a haunted house for his neighbors because when he was younger his family was unable to afford to go to haunted houses due to financial issues.
“I’m the youngest of eight kids and my parents couldn’t afford to send us all out to a haunted house. So, I would always tell myself that someday when I get older I’m going to build my own haunted house, but I will never charge,” he said. “I don’t charge because I want families to go in within the community to check out the haunted house and have fun… It just brings the whole community together.”
Henry has always shared an inspiration towards giving back any way possible, and creating a haunted house for his community to enjoy is the best way he can do so.
The props inside the haunted house are stuff Henry and Melissa acquired throughout the years, but their prized possession is a custom coffin, which was given to them as a present from one of their friends.
“As long as I got breath in my lungs I’ll keep do this,” Henry said.
Along with building a haunted house for the community to enjoy, Henry is also starring in a local horror film, called “Cowboy Zombies,” playing the character of outlaw Caleb Jennings. It’s set in a fictional town during the 1800s that is overrun by the living dead.
The film is currently being shown at the Harkins Valley Art Theater, 509 S. Mill Ave.
For show times, visit www.cowboyzombiesfilm.com.
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