The Dunbar Haunted House hosts its last season after 10 years of scares and thousands of visitors.
What started out as a modest Halloween display, put together by Brad Leith and his roommates to entertain the neighbourhood children in 2004, quickly evolved into a full-blown haunted house with multiple rooms and live actors that saw hundreds of guests every night.
Leith said after getting “too big for their britches” and overstaying their welcome in the Dunbar neighbourhood, they moved to a warehouse in the industrial area on Shaughnessy, just south of Marine Drive.
“We were a little too noisy for some of our neighbours – we would have amusement park-size lineups,” Leith explained. “It started out small scale, a little display and it just kept building.
“Basically what drove it was public reception, just more and more people came. We were overwhelmed at how busy it got.”
A haunted house that serves a bigger cause
The popularity of the haunted house also brought the opportunity to give back by donating to charity, an idea Leith hadn’t originally thought about.
“I think it was 2006, three or four nights before Halloween and we had about 500-600 people crammed in the front of our yard,” Leith said. “This woman said, ‘Where’s your donation box? Look at all the people, you should find a charity and try to raise some money.’”
After doing some research, Leith said he decided on the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association Burn Fund and that following year, “without even trying,” the house raised $3,000 for the charity.
“From then on, our standard policy was to pick three local charities that are somehow connected to kids,” Leith said. ”For the last several years we’ve stuck with the B.C. Firefighters Burn Fund, the Vancouver Police Charity Foundation and the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.”
In 2012 alone they have raised over $67,000 for three charities, an impressive number for something that began as a modest display in front of a house.
Visitors sad to see it go
Over a hundred guests lined up Monday night to take a walk through the Terror of History, their theme for their ninth and final year. Judging by the screams coming from inside, they weren’t disappointed.
“We lost our voices, lots of screaming,” said first-timer Deb Finlay.
Finlay and her friends Sheryl Murray and Linda Richards happened upon the house by accident.
“We were driving somewhere else and we saw the sign and all went ‘Haunted house!’” Richards laughed.
But with this being the last year, they wished they had found out about it earlier.
“Sad to see that this is actually going, we really hope that they can keep it going, or someone can,” Finlay said.
Reported by Patrick Colvin and Kristen Harpula
Check out this video interview with Brad Leith on site at the haunted house