ELYSBURG – Off to the side of the Elysburg Gun Club on Route 487 sits a menacing looking house. Though it once was occupied, it now is a haunted house.
Since 1976, local organizations including the Elysburg Jaycees, Rotary and Ralpho Area Women’s Club had held a haunted attraction. When the groups couldn’t keep it going, it folded – but only for a heartbeat.
The Elysburg and Ralpho Fire companies stepped in, taking it over to help raise funds, and today it has risen in popularity.
The Elysburg Haunted House is held from 7 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 26 and also on Halloween.
The experience begins well before one enters the grounds of the haunted house.
Those standing in line or walking around will spot ghouls roaming about, sneaking up on unsuspecting humans and waiting for the moment they turn around.
Some walk about with chain saws, taunting the crowd and getting their blood pumping.
Harvey M. Boyer Jr., president and assistant chief at Elysburg Fire Department, said visitors will start at the entrance path to the house and experience around five or six events. Then they’ll enter the depths of the aged home.
“The house itself is filled with 18 different haunts, so that is where the attractions are,” he said.
He said there are five new attractions this year and also what he calls “a change of direction.”
He declined to comment on much more to keep surprises intact for those who attend.
It takes 60 to 80 volunteers to put the event on. That includes hours of planning, making and setting up as well as actually putting on the scary moments.
The volunteers pick their own rooms and scenes, and the committee from the fire department approves or disapproves.
Boyer said the volunteers come from all over and come together as a family.
“Some of the most interesting people come to help. Some love Halloween,” Boyer said.
For some, the volunteerism is an activity that has been passed down through generations.
There are third generations working the house in which their grandparents started volunteering in the late 70s.
Romance bloomed through the years. Some met each other there and began dating, eventually got married. Now their children are volunteering.
“A couple from Elysburg had their first date at the haunted house,” he said. “Now, their children are working it.”
Boyer said the man who goes through the crowds with his (chain-less) chainsaw has been doing it for the 30 years the haunted house has been running.
“Its a close knit family that put this on,” he said.
The event has pulled people Boyer said from areas all over Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, Scranton and the immediate areas.
He said even people from out state like Maryland, New York and out of country have visited.
Boyer thinks one of the biggest attractions to the haunted house is that it benefits the two fire departments. He said its a “bang for your buck” event, which serves as such a large fundraising activity for the fire companies.
“It serves such a great cause. Proceeds benefit the Elysburg and Ralpho fire departments. Recently, Ralpho was able to purchase a new ladder truck with some of the funds save over the years from the haunted house,” Boyer said.
The fire departments are extremely grateful for the public’s support and the volunteers who come every year.
“We couldn’t do it from the fire and rescue side of things alone,” he said. “It really truly has becomes its own spook family.”
Tickets are $10 and there are food vendors available and free parking.
Boyer said if one goes to the website www.elysburghauntedhouse.com there is more information and a coupon for Friday night.
The haunted house has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ElysburgHauntedHouse.