Haunted house sure to scare neighbors, creep out visitors

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - This years Tualatin Haunted House includes mutants and other ghouls who invade a top-secret military facility inside Van Raden Community Ceter at Tualatin Community Park.A top-secret government facility in Tualatin has been breached, and members of the walking dead are after you!

That’s the premise for this year’s Tualatin Haunted House at Tualatin Community Park, an annual tradition that has been scaring folks for more than a decade.

The haunted house, which runs through Saturday night is filled with all the spooky sights from other area haunted houses: Dark corridors filled with scares, actors dressed in gruesome costumes, and plenty of atmosphere.

The event is organized and run entirely by the Tualatin Youth Advisory Council — a committee of middle and high school students that works with the city on issues affecting youth in the community — as a marketing tool and fundraiser that has helped raise thousands of dollars for the group.

Looking for more fun Halloween activities? Read our story on other local events by clicking here.

“For a lot of the (youth) council members, this is one for their favorite things to do all year,” said Julie Ludeman, who advises the group, known as YAC. “The haunted house is part of what gets people interested in joining YAC. It’s one of our most fun activities.

“We’re not the biggest haunted house in the Portland metro area, but we have a good time.”

Students spent the last month preparing for this year’s haunting, transforming the two-story Van Raden Community Center into a top-secret biological weapons testing facility that has been overrun by mutants.

The theme is “Mutant Mayhem” and participants try to survive the testing facility as they work their way through rooms filled with ghouls and other nasty business.

“There is definitely blood and guts and gore,” Ludeman said. “It’s really creepy.”

Ryan Houlberg, 17, has visited the haunted house for years and joined YAC four years ago. Even after he heads off to college next year, he’ll make sure to pop into the haunted house for a visit.

“We really try to be pretty scary,” he said. “We do different types of scary things. There are people hopping out at you and really creepy or gross looking things and strobe lights and fog. We mix up the scares.”

It’s that scare-factor that kept Tualatin senior Bella Kessler away from the haunted house for years, even after her sister joined YAC and planned the Halloween tradition.

“I don’t like haunted houses,” she said. “I never went through it.”

Now, as one of the house’s planners, Kessler and other students were responsible for coming up with this year’s theme. They also got some tips from the pros, taking tours of Beaverton’s “13th Door” haunt on Southwest Canyon Road.

“It always amazes me how much work and effort and creativity goes into a haunted house,” Houlberg said. “What they do there is awesome.”

Houlberg said he couldn’t think of another haunted house in the Portland area that is run 100 percent by high school students.

“It’s fun to work at,” Houlberg said. “We know a lot of the people coming in, and we can create this whole thing on our own. To be able to run your own haunted house is really cool.”

Proceeds from the haunted house will help send the students to the National League of Cities convention in Boston, Mass., where the students will meet with other youth councils across the country.

Only want to be a little scared? The Haunted House tailors the experience to suit each group, offering less scary options for young children and those less interested in having nightmares.

“We have no problem scaring teenagers, but we’d rather not scare the little kids,” Ludeman said.

For less scary options, the actors tone down their performances, and the group offers a family-friendly “Boo Room” for youngsters.

Houlberg said his favorite memory of the haunted house was a few years ago, when a group of his friends arrived.

“I was dressed as a gorilla on the top of a recess at the top of some stairs. Right when they passed me, I jumped down behind them and the floor made this big booming noise, and my friends jumped, and then sprinted out of the room scared,” he said. “It was great.”

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