A popular haunted house in Castle Rock was canceled this year amid logistical setbacks and safety concerns. Organizers said they hope to bring the event back next year but are waiting to make that …
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A popular haunted house in Castle Rock was canceled this year amid logistical setbacks and safety concerns. Organizers said they hope to bring the event back next year but are waiting to make that decision.
The fire department's live burn training tower at 303 Malibu St. is each October transformed into a ghoul-infested, spooky spree called the Castle of Terror. The local haunt often draws thousands of spectators in a season, said Deputy Fire Chief Rich Martin.
Castle Rock's fire and police Explorer posts host the attraction as a fundraiser for the Explorer program. The program allows teens to learn basic training in fire suppression, emergency medical services and policing.
Detective Amanda Lane with the Castle Rock Police Department is the lead adviser for the police Explorer program. The haunted house is the program's biggest fundraiser and has been growing in popularity, she said.
“It was really hard to make that call and obviously pretty sad, the kids were upset,” Lane said. “We just couldn't' come up with a safe way to hold it this year. There were too many unknowns.”
Martin oversees the fire department's Explorer program. Both he and Lane help organize the haunted house.
Parking at the tower has always been limited but was worsened this year by a construction project underway near the tower, Martin said. The town is building an expanded, $2.56 million training facility on the training campus for its fire and police departments.
Constructing the 6,000-square foot building means hazards like heavy machinery now sit on the active construction site and pose a safety risk, Martin said. Organizers also considered the lack of parking and possibility of people walking along streets when deciding not to hold the event this year.
“Those are the types of safety concerns that weighed heavily on us,” Martin said.
Lane said they didn't want to ask neighboring businesses to open their parking lots for potentially hundreds of people to use on Castle of Tower nights.
The building typically used by cast members to get into wardrobe is also part of the construction project and unavailable to use this year. About 30 volunteers participate from the police department, Lane said, but that's not including actors or fire personnel.
Martin said the town decided against finding an alternative location because it would have cost the Explorer program money, taking funding from activities like sending Explorers to conferences.
In the past two years, the fire and police Explorer posts raised $8,000 each through Castle of Terror proceeds.
The Explorer posts are looking into new fundraising options to offset what it would have raised from the haunted house in 2019. Lane said people can bring donations for the Explorer program to police headquarters, 100 Perry St.
The haunted house has been a local fixture since 2005.
Volunteers would spend hours putting together elaborate costumes and chilling makeup before showtime. Lines formed at the door and people could be heard screaming their way through the various levels from outside the building.
Organizers will wait to decide whether to hold the Castle of Terror next year once the construction project has wrapped up.
At that point they can assess the level of parking and logistical feasibility of using the campus for the Castle of Terror, Martin said. When the project was considered for council approval, construction was expected to wrap up in 2020.
“We want to see once we get the new building built up there again, logistically how it's going to lay out,” Martin said. “Before we make a commitment one way or another.”
Lane said the town is optimistic the event will return next year, and they plan to make a decision “as early as we can.”
“It's a bummer for the community that we couldn't do it this year,” Lane said. “The plan is to bring it back.”
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