By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA—It turns out the scariest part of city hall this time of year isn’t in the mayor’s office or council chambers — it's in the basement.
City hall’s basement isn’t a place to gather dust or old computer chairs, though. It is the location of one of the most popular haunted houses in Ottumwa.
The Nightmare on 3rd Street, now in its eighth year, is a project designed to raise money for the Ottumwa Police Department’s DARE and GREAT programs. Each year, several individuals design and construct props, sets and costumes and accept donations from all around the community to help make the scariest haunted house possible.
The volunteers are busy setting up the haunt just about year-round, and most of the materials used are either free or very inexpensive, according to organizer Lynn Diveley. There are usually anywhere from 30-40 volunteers to help during show nights, either scaring the guests, taking entrance fees or directing the people who are too scared to move.
This year’s haunted house features some of the crowd favorites from previous years, including the vortex and claustrophobia rooms, as well as some new stops that are sure to get some screams. According to Diveley, the split of new and old features is about 50/50. Guests will walk through approximately 26 rooms, totaling about 20 minutes of sheer terror.
The cost for walking through the haunted house is $6, with times from 6 p.m. to midnight tonight and next weekend, Oct. 25 and 26. This year, Nightmare on 3rd Street is teaming up with Ottumwa Zombie Fest 2013 and will be holding a zombie costume contest. Everyone is encouraged to come out and enjoy the countless scares while sporting your best zombie costume.
— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh