By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Back-to-school days are now a thing of the past … and we’re moving ahead to ‘back-to-ghoul’ days! Yes, the countdown to Halloween is on, and many look forward to participating in a night of fright to help celebrate this ghostly holiday. If you’re looking for such an event, you don’t have to travel far. And let’s just make this clear – it is QUITE elaborate!
Since 1995, James Vanscoy, owner of Cartoon Headquarters in Clarksburg, has been putting on an annual haunted extravaganza to entertain those who really get into Halloween. He originally did a haunted house in the old RG Honda building in Stonewood; he’s also done it at locations in Anmoore, on Old Bridgeport Hill, in downtown Clarksburg, and even in other neighboring counties. Where the haunted happening takes place is often a matter of availability of a large enough location, James said.
It has been four years since he’s done this in Harrison County, but area residents will find it worth the wait! This year “Greyskull Manor” will be set up in the Rosebud Plaza at the former Save-A-Lot location.
“We’re so very grateful to Larry Policano for allowing us the use of this building,” James said. “We’re talking about 20,000 square feet here and having that kind of space to work with is amazing – but challenging. It’s kind of like constructing four haunted houses in one!”
Mr. Policano commented, “Our building was empty so I was happy to contribute to this – especially because proceeds will benefit such a worthy cause. I have watched the progress on Greyskull Manor and it is truly amazing the things he does. What an imagination!”
Each year Vanscoy has done this, a charity has benefitted. Charities in the past have included Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, and St. Jude’s Hospital to name a few. Last year’s charity of choice received a donation of over $14,000! This year, proceeds will be donated to WVU Children’s Hospital in Morgantown.
If you think it isn’t going to be something amazing, think again. Vanscoy and many of his volunteers have been working on the setup since July – working for several hours a night! And with this much space, he says they are adding many new things.
For example, you can expect a waterfall, lakes and cabins. You may also find moss on the floor – just to make it more realistic. And for the first time, he’ll be utilizing a special effect using a projection; you’ll swear the zombies are coming through a window!
“We pride ourselves in being very creative and doing the unexpected, and even we have to step back and take in how awesome it is,” James added. “I think this year’s Halloween construction is the best we’ve ever done and will be the talk of the town!”
This is a no small undertaking … nor is it inexpensive to produce. The first 30 days were all spent doing construction. Smoke and fog and many special effects have been added – even Hollywood props. There is also a 20 foot hallway where the walls blow up and you have to s-q-u-e-e-z-e through it. Vanscoy says he feels that live actors are more successful than animatronics so you can expect lots of costumed ghouls running around.
“Our sponsors have been very generous and supportive as well,” he continued. “WVAQ, Home Depot, WKKW, and Spirit Halloween Super Store at Meadowbrook Mall have been a tremendous help.”
The guided tours last approximately 45 minutes. Greyskull Manor opens on October 2nd and continues every Thursday through Sunday through the end of October. Weeknight tours are given from 7 to 10 p.m. and on weekends, tours are from 7 p.m. to midnight. The cost is $20 per adult and $15 for children 10 and under. Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by an adult or legal guardian.
Vanscoy encourages folks to come early. “Typically, waiting lines begin to form around 6 p.m.,” he noted. And don’t let chilly or rainy weather keep you away! Even the waiting area is enclosed so that no one has to wait out in inclement weather.
James stresses that Greyskull Manor may not be for everyone. “Some things may be too graphic for some small children, but it all depends on the child,” he concluded. “I’ve had some 7-year olds who LOVE it, and then there are sometimes older kids and even some adults who have been scared to death! If that happens, there are several exit areas available if they choose not to continue.”
So if you’re looking for an entertaining way to get into the spirit of Halloween, go and find out what evil lurks behind the walls of Greyskull Manor!
He is still looking for volunteers – even if you can’t be there every evening Greyskull is open. If you’re interested in being a ‘ghoul’, call Jim at 304-623-9184.