by Judy Stringer
By the time you read this article, more than 3,000 fright fans will have passed through the Hudson Haunted House this season.
The popular haunt, in its 50th year, opened Sept. 23 and runs every Friday and Saturday night through Oct. 29.
“This is a legendary house,” said Damon Call, president of the Hudson Jaycees, a nonprofit that owns and operates the venue. “It’s the oldest running haunted house in Ohio, as far as we know. If not the oldest, [it is] definitely in the top five.”
There are a few “room changes” and more “interactive” outdoor thrills for the 2022 season, according to Call and Hudson Jaycees Public Relations Coordinator Jeremiah Greathouse.
“This may be one of the oldest, but it’s not the ‘same old house,’” Greathouse noted.
Call said the Hudson Jaycees held its first haunted house in 1972. Today, it averages about 1,500 visitors a night.
The notoriety of its Halloween-season haunt, in fact, inspired the local Jaycees to add a St. Patrick’s Day-themed spook show last spring, called St. Patrick’s Revenge.
“That was a lot of fun and also drew in a lot of visitors,” Call said.
Greathouse said it takes 75-80 people to prepare and stage the Hudson Haunted House. About half of them are Junior Jaycee members, a program for eighth- to 12th-graders, but community members as young as 5 or 6 join in the scary fun.
“I grew up in the Jaycees,” Call said. “I volunteered here when I was young just like my brothers did.”
“We also have a number of adults who donate their time,” Greathouse added. “We spend all summer working on the house. There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes.”
Proceeds from the all-volunteer haunted house are given back to the community through Jaycee projects and grants. Its biggest charity program is Kids Helping Kids, an annual Christmas gift giveaway. Call said the Jaycees recently co-sponsored the Streetsboro bicentennial celebration. The group also regularly donates to food pantries, individual families who ask for help and other nonprofits like Boys and Girls Club of Akron.
“We find out what they need and respond with what we can give,” he said.
Less scary options
For those who might not be ready for the full fright, organizers offer less-scary versions of the haunted house on three Sundays this month.
Masks are off and the lights are on during afternoon “matinees” on these Sundays.
“That’s a time for little ones to trick-or-treat while going through,” Call said.
“Then on Sunday evenings we do what we call ‘monster magic,’ where the kids go through a normal house, but they use magic to scare the monster to back off, and it’s a little bit more interactive with the patrons.”
For times and ticket prices, visit hudsonhauntedhouse.org. ∞