The Ottumwa Courier

September 3, 2013

Prepare to be scared

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — It's time to decide if you want to be scared or be the one doing the scaring.

This year's Nightmare on Third Street haunted house will be from 6 p.m. to midnight Oct. 18, 19, 25 and 26 in the basement of City Hall. The cost is $6 per person.

Nightmare on Third Street is the major fundraiser of the year for the Ottumwa Police Department's D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. programs. Funds are used for the drug resistance program in the fifth grades and gang resistance at the junior high level.

"We'd really like to break the 3,000 goal," D.A.R.E. Officer Brandon Gravett said about attendance for this year. "It's actually more fun when we're busy. They're not waiting in line as long, and it does go quickly."

Once in the haunted house, it generally takes 20-30 minutes to make the entire tour. It is taken at your own pace, which Gravett says makes for much better reactions to the special effects. There are about 25 rooms to make your way through.

There is no age minimum or maximum, but parental discretion is advised.

"There are some kindergartners who could handle it just fine, but then there are probably some high school kids who couldn't handle it at all," said Lynn Diveley, a longtime organizer and police department employee.

Organizers began working on this year's haunted house in January, which seems like a long time until you stop to think about how much there is to do. Diveley says they change about a third of the haunted house each year so if someone goes through every year, they'll always see something new.

In the only sneak preview they would give away, Diveley says the new video effects will be a great new addition to the scary atmosphere.

"It's fun to scare people and see their expressions when they've gone through," Gravett said. "Ultimately, we want to do it and we want to do it right. We can't do it in a day and expect people to come enjoy it."

In addition, the haunted house crew will be dressing up and judging the costume contest at ZombieFest. They will also have a float in the Oktoberfest parade in combination with ZombieFest, which will have some sneak previews of what's to come.

There is still plenty of work to do in the upcoming weeks, and volunteers are still needed to prepare the haunted house and to be part of the cast during the four nights.

Any adults interested in volunteering their building skills, decorating talents or scaring abilities can call Diveley at 683-0635 or Gravett at 683-0640.