haunted houses in winter, part 2

I haven’t grown accustomed yet to being cold at Halloween. I spent eight years worrying about my actors overdressing and being too warm; here, where we work outside without the benefit of a ceiling, there’s no such thing as too many layers of clothing. I went on to spend seven years worrying about how to capture heat.

As cold as October can be, November roars in worse. After everyone is exhausted from a month of putting their day-to-day lives on some sort of hold and dedicating every free moment to the haunt, November 1st means a return to the real world, and a disregard for all the work needed to do to put the show back into storage. It’s true of any haunted house, and it’s especially bad when your attraction is open to the elements.

So the bare minimum gets done – the most fragile things are pulled under some sort of cover. The boss says, “Don’t fall in love with anything here. It’ll be gone in a few years.” There aren’t enough hands to move all of the props carelessly left outside to safer ground. Most of the structures that have taken the better part of the summer to build, to fix, are left out to be drenched by rain, covered by snow, bleached by sun.

It’s not fair, of course, to say that November is winter. There are still autumn thanks to be celebrated. But depending on the fickle decisions of Mother Nature, winter can hit as early as the last week in October.

And there is something strangely defeating in walking these halls after the temperatures have plummeted, to see props filled with frozen water, pathways filled with snow. Pretty, yes, but heavy – supports break under the weight – and when the snow transforms to water, the walls will wick up all that moisture.

A haunted house filled with snowdrifts is on its way to a haunted house needing to be rebuilt.


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