The Transylvania Times -

'Scary Tales' Frighten For A Good Cause

 

November 2, 2017

Matt McGregor

Chris Biecker, Charlotte Snelson, and Stephen and Austin House stand at the entrance to their creation, "Scary Tales."

For the architects of the haunted house, "Scary Tales," frightening people was for a good cause.

The idea came to Charlotte Snelson, office manager and social worker at The Salvation Army of Transylvania County, while brainstorming ideas to raise money.

When she and Chris Biecker, owner of Moody-Connelly Funeral home, who are both members of Pisgah Forest Rotary Club, discussed the possibility of having a haunted house, Biecker said he had the space, and Snelson said she knew just the right person to build it.

With the right space in the garage of the Moody Connolly Funeral Home at 20 W. Morgan St. in Brevard, several elements came together to raise money for the Silvermont Opportunity Center.

Those elements included a good story, sponsors such as the Transylvania Cruisers and Karla Marie Bertlsofer from White Squirrel Reality, the builder, Austin House, and volunteers from Davidson River School, who were willing to don scary masks and put on a show.

"It's really good," Snelson said. "The story behind it is about a book found beneath the Silvermont Opportunity Center during renovations. It is brought into a book store, and the fairy tale creatures come to life and seek revenge for being trapped in the book for so long. So, you have Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Pinocchio, Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz," Little Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Wolf, and other creatures that can be found throughout the house."

Snelson said they were able to "tone it up" for teenagers, and "scale it back" for younger children.

"We have code words that we give, so our actors know which script to follow, and if we do scare a kid too much, we turn on all the lights and let them do a walk through, and see the actors without their masks, just so they can see it's not real," Snelson said.

Though the planning of the house began three months prior to Halloween, Austin House was able to construct the design in five days, with the help of his brother Stephen.

"I've been dreaming about doing this since I was a little kid," House said.

House has worked on haunted houses for charity in the past as an actor or construction assistant, but this is the first haunted house over which he had full creative control. He was able to build the house for under $600.

"I designed, built and ran everything from the ground up," House said. "For me, it's theater, and we use simple effects, and we've done a lot with what little we had to work with."

The haunted hallways were dark, with each turn promising an unpredictable surprise from committed actors such as Juanita Franks playing a witch; Snelson's daughter, Haley, screaming behind candy cane prison bars; Bryan Perez as a maniacal pig; Daniel Lunsford and Ethan Dobbins as evil-eyed wolves; and Mae Holden as a disturbing, expressionless scarecrow.

Matt McGregor

Juanita Franks, Mae Holden, Daniel Lunsford, Ethan Dobbins, Bryan Perez and Haley Snelson all played a role in scaring visitors of the haunted house.

"It's definitely spooky," said Biecker. "My wife, Suzy, and I love this time of year, and since we can't have trick or treaters because of the Caldwell Street widening project, we figured this might bring kids into the area."

Snelson said it's been a fun project.

"It's been a lot of work, but I love fundraising," Snelson said. "It's what I do, and I love Halloween, so I've enjoyed every minute of it. And the city has been amazing, especially the Brevard Fire Department and the Brevard Police Department."

Biecker, Snelson and House said they would like to seek another charity to support next year. They already have a new concept: a toxic chemical spill creating gigantic bugs.

"We would like to do this year after year, especially now that we know what hurdles we have to get through," Snelson said.

 
 

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