Q&A with homeowner/creator Barbara Spaulding sheds light on two decade of spook
By Karly Haven/Real Rutland
Tuesday, Oct. 31 from 5-8:30 p.m.—RUTLAND—Head to 52 Bellevue Avenue in Rutland, the Spaulding’s house and experience a masterpiece of spook that’s been perfected for two decades. They’re trying to hit a new record for attendance! All are welcome. To learn more about their impressive endeavour, I sat down with homeowner/creater Barbara Spaulding, who also volunteers with our concierge program.
Karly Haven: First, can you tell me a little bit about yourself.
Barabara Spaulding: I came to Rutland in 1980 and graduated from Rutland High School. I was going to go to Syracuse University to study media production communication, but instead met my husband and had two children. I have been married again and that is what kept me in Rutland. I love Rutland and I did not want to raise my kids anywhere else. I now work at the Rutland Redevelopment Authority (RRA). I have been there for 28 years. What got me that position at the RRA is the fact that I worked at the Rutland Herald and for an accounting office. So, combining those two attributes made me the grant writer.
KH: How did the haunted house originally begin?
BS: In 2003, my sons broke the news to me that they no longer were interested in trick or treating. And I was not ready to give it up yet. They were 13 and 15. I convinced them that if we created this haunted house, and let people go through it, it would be tons of fun and a way we could continue to celebrate Halloween together. And it was a hit, but it was exceedingly small. The first year, we only allowed people we knew to go through. It was not until a year or two later that we opened it up to the public.
KH: More recently, how many people have visited the Haunted House?
BS: Our record is 1,038 people in a three-hour period. We hope to break that record this year. With Covid, the numbers have gone down. We are hoping that they will move back higher.
KH: How many volunteers help with the haunted house?
BS: We are at 31 volunteers. And we are blessed to collaborate with the Mentor Connector. They supply many volunteers through their mentor matches. That is why we started a donation for the Mentor Connector at our front door. There is no charge to go into the haunted house. But now we do ask for donations.
KH: What drives you to continue this after so many years? What keeps you going?
BS: As I am setting it up in my home, I asked myself this question. Every year, why are we still doing this? It is so much work. I know there are people who go through and can see the work and recognize the amount of work, but we cannot live in our home. We live there but it is not fun to live there. In converting the house into haunted house, we are limited in our space. But on Halloween night, what makes it all worth it is when kids come who have been through the haunted house and are now bringing their children through the haunted house. We have become such a tradition in people’s lives that they keep coming back every year and bringing their kids. It makes it all worthwhile.
KH: How many days does it take to set up in your house?
BS: We start planning in September, and then we start prepping the house the first weekend in October, our volunteers come for two weekends in October for setup, and then the week before is when we do the final setup. I used to try to think of how many hours it takes, but it is not countable. It starts in mid-September, and we finish probably an hour before we open the doors. There is always something that we must do right before we open. It encompasses the first floor, the backyard, the decks, and the driveway.
KH: What is your favorite moment from the haunted house?
BS: When people tell us that they came when they were kids and are coming back with their kids, but also, when the haunted house is over, and all the volunteers are in the greenroom in the garage. And we are all talking about our experiences through the night and what happened and who we scared and things like that. That camaraderie amongst our volunteers is the best feeling.
KH: Is there anything else you think I should know about the haunted house that we have not covered?
BS: The haunted house this year is on Oct. 31 for one night only. From 5-8:30 p.m. And it is at 52 Bellevue Avenue in Rutland. We do not charge admission, but we do graciously accept all donations to the Mentor Connector. We have a Facebook page, which is the Bellevue Avenue Haunted House Facebook page, please like us and follow us. We also have a website, that is boocrewhauntedhouse.com where you can get lots of information, watch videos, see pictures, and volunteer.
KH: What is the Mentor Connector for those who might not know?
BS: Mentor Connector is a youth organization in Rutland, which matches adults and children. The children are referred to the Mentor Connector through different means, like the schools, people, and parents. And they are matched one on one with a mentor who signs a contract to spend time with their match at a minimum of one hour a week for a year.