Family scares up money for charities

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, October 5, 2013

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From the wails of screaming bridge near Paradise, the bloody walls smeared with ectoplasmic goo at the Mount House in Chico to the sightings of Mothman, alien crashes, Bigfoot and the discovery of a chupacabra corpse in Runaway Bay – Wise County is full of haunts and monsters.

But this weekend, a new one comes to un-life in downtown Bridgeport. A family is using their passion for scaring people to raise money for local charities.

SHOCKED AND AFRAID – Scream Zone opens tonight at 1012 Halsell Street in downtown Bridgeport. The haunted house will be open Thursday through Saturday until Nov. 2 and all proceeds will benefit local charities. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

“For the past five years we’ve transformed our yard in Runaway Bay into a haunt as something for the neighborhood kids,” said Robert Chaney. “This year we decided to go bigger and create a charity haunt. We wanted to donate to charities based in Wise County.”

The Masonic Lodge building located at 1012 Halsell Street will serve as the site for the haunted house Scream Zone, which opens tonight and is slated to run 6 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday until Nov. 2.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children. Proceeds will go to Wise Hope Shelter and Crisis Center, the Wise County Animal Shelter and area food banks. Patrons receive $2 off their ticket price if they bring canned food or dog food.

The old building serves as the perfect backdrop for the dark maze of twists and turns, butcher shops and ghostly portraits, zombies and vampires, coffins and graveyard that are inside.

Chaney works as a construction engineer in Midland, so he had the skills necessary to temporarily transform the lodge into a house of horrors. He’s even built in an escape hatch about halfway through so if small children get too scared they can break free.

His wife Lalisa and daughter Stephanie Wahl, along with a handful of other volunteers, have invested hundreds of hours of labor in the project.

“I love Halloween,” Wahl said. “I trick-or-treated until I was 17. Every year we try to go bigger and better. We’re doing this for the spirit of the children and for local charities.”

And people just love being scared.

“People are curious,” Chaney said. “People like going to horror movies because of the rush they get during the scary parts. The same can be said for haunted houses. But in a haunted house we can excite even more senses.”

Academic research supports Chaney. A study done several years ago by researchers with the University of California at Berkeley found people enjoy both the rush of emotions they experience while being scared and the euphoria or relief that occurs when you emerge from the haunted house or roller coaster.

Scream Zone also has an agreement with Parker House located on U.S. 380 several miles west of Denton. Ticket stubs from Scream Zone can be used to get a $3 discount at Parker House or vice versa.

Dead Ahead

DEAD AHEAD – A skeleton sits in the driver’s seat of a hearse parked behind the Scream Zone haunted house in Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

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