Enter at your own risk: Eerie Street Manor brings fright, fun
Located on Erie Street in Depew, Dakota Ward, a senior at Depew High School, for the past three years has been organizing this one of kind haunted house, which grows each year.
With the help of his scare crew, Ward and his crew, who are school friends, have built and constructed a haunted house again this year. While some props have been donated, nearly everything has been built from scratch using found objects most of the time.
“When Dakota was younger, he didn’t want to go trick or treating,” said Pam Gorman, Dakota’s mom. “All he really wanted to do was scare kids. When we closed on our house three years ago, it happened to be right before Halloween and he decorated the front porch and had a couple of his friends here with fake chainsaws and they dressed up as zombies. So, the next year, he put something together that was a bit bigger and it was only on Halloween, but they had so much fun that he decided he really wanted to plan for the next one, this year’s.”
Seeing that this is Ward’s senior year, and he will be going off to college, this probably will be the last year for visitors to check out the haunted house.
Pam said they wanted to make this year the biggest and the best yet.
The theme, haunted hotel, is somewhat based on the movie Psycho and the ever popular Bates Motel. Utilizing the backyard, garage, and even some neighboring property, Ward and his scare crew have been working hard for the past few months to get their concept down to a T.
“It is a great effort put on by him and his school friends,” said Pam. “If you look at his yearbook, nearly every sentiment makes reference to his ‘haunted house.’ When people hear the name ‘Dakota Ward’ they almost immediately connect the dots.”
Split into about eight different rooms, visitors will see and hear all kinds of creepy things such as an electric chair, which was made by Ward, bloody body parts hanging from the ceiling, a foggy graveyard, and of course no haunted house would be complete without a psychotic chainsaw man, and special lighting and sound has been added to intensify the horror even more.
“It is a lot of fun and everyone pinches in,” said Ward. “It is fun to see kids cringe in terror.”
Dave Gorman, Ward’s step-father, said he and Pam are available to help them out, but they left it up to them to put it all together. He also mentioned that for younger kids or for those who don’t want to be scared too much, there are different codes the scare crew will be alerted too, allowing them to tone the frights if need be.
Manager of Eerie Street Manor, Depew High School senior Christian Hehr, who has worked on this project since the very beginning with Ward, said it will take about five to 10 minutes to walk through the haunted house.
“It takes about 10 seconds if we scare you out of it,” laughed Hehr, who noted he likes the building aspect of the haunted house versus scaring people.
And for Scare Crew Zombie, Tiffany Bassett, it allows her to show her creativity in art by painting on the walls.
“I also enjoy the camaraderie,” said Bassett.
Although, the haunted house is free, donations are once again being accepted for the James P. Haley Memorial Scholarship and the Friends of Camp Turner, a not-for-profit organization that provides financial assistance to campers who cannot afford the full cost of a session at Camp Turner, a summer camp run by the Catholic Diocese out of Allegheny State Park.
Haley was a longtime camper, staff member, and friend of Camp Turner. He passed away in 2011.
Dakota is a former camper and staff member at Camp Turner.
“It is for a good cause,” remarked Ward. “We really want to beat last year’s raising,” in which they raised close to $500.
Also, canned goods/non-perishable food donations will be collected and given to the Food Bank of WNY.
Dave said they were able to raise 175 to 200 pounds of food last year. The goal this year is 400 pounds.
“Last year, was our first year doing it for charity and it brought a whole different aspect to it,” remarked Depew High School senior and a member of the Scare Crew Justin Leach. “Not only was it fun, but you’re working toward something bigger.”
Preview night will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20. For those who can’t make it out, the haunted house will be opened from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 27 and 28 and Oct. 30 and 31. Hot cocoa, cider, and assorted baked goods will be available for purchase and will benefit Friends of Camp Turner.
Also, on preview night, members of Bryce Buchholz’s family will have a tent set up to continue to raise funds for a skate park in honor of Bryce’s memory, a 14-year-old who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in May.
“I Survived Eerie Street Manor” T-shirts will also be available for purchase, which are designed by Pam. There will be family friendly games held in the front yard such as ring toss and bean bag toss.
“It does my heart good to know that there are kids out there who really care about paying it forward,” said Pam.
For more information call 393-2555 or visit Eerie Street Manor’s Facebook page.