It was a shade before midnight Friday as a dozen Post Falls Lions Club members sipped Kokanee around a table inside a wooden workshop.
The club, which spearheads the popular Post Falls Lions Haunted House, was decompressing after a night in which 450 customers trickled through the doors of their ghoulish haunt, now in its 41st year of operation.
Nine crates of donated canned food sat near the table, where one Lions member counted out the evening’s earnings.
“We’ve made over $2,000,” the woman said as she stacked the profits, funds that will eventually be pumped into good causes in the Post Falls community.
And this was just an “OK” night for a scare house that is considered one of the best in the region.
Longevity-wise, it’s among the oldest in the country.
Between 5,000 and 7,000 people visit the Post Falls Lions Club’s Haunted House every year, the club said, which has helped it collectively give $300,000 back to a variety of worthy Post Falls causes over the years.
It is also a major contributor to the Post Falls food bank, as a canned food donation takes $2 off the $7 admission.
Just over 90 percent of the annual revenue the Lions Club generates comes from its haunted house, according to Post Falls member Paul Wagner. The house often runs 14 nights in October.
“I think that’s why a lot of people keep coming back,” said Bri Noel, a Lions member and a longtime volunteer of the haunted house who wears the title Ghoul Master. “We donate the money and all the canned food. It’s for a good cause.”
It’s for a good fright, too.
Around 20 years ago, at a tenderer age, Noel was among the visitors looking for a scare at the haunted house. When she was old enough to volunteer, she took her turn to don the ghoulish garb and makeup.
Now, as a Lions member, she looks forward to the horror on other people’s faces.
“We’ve been around for 41 years and I don’t think we’re going anywhere anytime soon,” Noel said.
In an old house used solely for the haunt, spook-seekers experience darkness, narrow entries, themed rooms and a variety of frights.
Vampires, zombies, werewolves – the gamut of classic terrors – are likely to be unearthed in the house.
One of the house’s biggest constants over the years has been the chain saw-wielding maniac at the conclusion of the haunt.
Darrell Whitesitt, who has helped with the production for over a decade, recalled a time in which his logger friend was even scared.
“He thought the chain saw was real,” Whitesitt said with a grin. “He was down on his knees, scared.”
Whitesitt and Wagner said a good portion of visitors come from Spokane. On Friday, members of the Gonzaga University rowing team were among the hundreds who purchased a ticket.
“I hear we’re scarier than Scarywood,” Wagner said. “If you want to get scared, you come here.”
Post Falls Lions Club members said their Haunted House lost some steam when Scarywood opened in 2010 at Silverwood Theme Park, but has since regained its usual numbers.
Wagner said an adult recently wet himself because he was so scared.
Whitesitt is convinced his haunted house has the scariest characters.
“People keep coming back because we have the best spooks,” Whitesitt, praising the young actors.
The Post Falls Lions Haunted House will run from 7-11 p.m. Thursday through Halloween night.
For the first time, the haunted house has designated a time for children 10 and under. On Sunday from 6-8 p.m, children will be able to trick-or-treat through the house, which will have its lights on.
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