Haunts return in time for spring break

Pat Yeater works on one of the displays that will be in the Haunted Hotel's casket room. The hotel will be open for spring on March 13, 14, 20 and 21, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night.
Photo by Andre Laird.

Looking for something to do this spring but don't have the money to travel?

Look no further than downtown Huntington, where the Jaycees' Haunted Hotel 13th Floor will be open for a spring break edition of "Ghouls Gone Wild."

The Jaycees have operated a haunted building in several locations in Huntington over the past 40 years. The group moved into the current location at 511 N. Jefferson St., where the Haunted Hotel was set up, nearly a decade ago, says Brett Molitor, manager of the Haunted Hotel.

"We've been in houses (with the owners' permission), old factories, and other commu-nity sites that have been available," Molitor notes. "We've been downtown now for nine years."

While traditionally a fall event - Halloween to be exact - the Jaycees decided to try a springtime event, something some other clubs across the country have been considering.

"We've gotten involved with training and associations on a national scale," Molitor says. "Cindy Neal started one for spring break in Salt Lake City and there's been one in Joplin, MO, for about four years. So we thought we'd try it for a couple of weeks - give the kids something to do (this spring)."

The Huntington Jaycees Haunted Hotel 13th floor Spring Break event will be held on two weekends in March - Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14, and Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21. The Hotel is open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night.

Those who have visited the Haunted Hotel in October can rest assured there will be new and different attractions for this event.

"Every year we change 25 to 30 percent of the show," Molitor says, adding the spring show will follow that lead. "It's a little different from last year. A couple of rooms have been redone and will be again for fall."

One of the rooms has a totally new look and feel, adds facilities manager Pat Yeater.

"It's a casket room," he says, being cautious not to divulge too much information. "You walk into the room and have to zigzag around the caskets."

As hotel guests continue into the room they see a vast, open space in front of them, Yeater continues.

"It's like you're looking out into a field - like looking out into infinity," he explains.

Molitor estimates that more than two dozen people will be involved in the spring production.

"With all the actors, security and backstage workers there will probably be about 25 people," he says. "Sometimes we have as many as 40-45."

Guests can expect to spend about half an hour working their way through the hotel.

"It takes 25 to 30 minutes to go through, depending on how fast they are running or how slow they are going," Molitor says with a chuckle.

Molitor and Yeater are excited about the new event and encourage people to visit the hotel, which is recommended for individuals ages 10 and over.

"Come out and have some fun and do something different for spring break," Molitor says.

"We figured some kids can't go on a trip this year," Yeater adds. "This is the least expensive trip and it's right here in Huntington. Come on down and have fun for 25 to 30 minutes."

The group's Web site also encourages visitors to give the hotel a try, albeit with a cautionary note.

"Discover the many dimensions of terror that await you inside the Haunted Hotel!," the Jaycees' Haunted Hotel Web site warns. "Experience the sights, sounds and smells of fear as you journey through the nightmare that is the 13th Floor!"

Tickets for the Haunted Hotel are available online at www.hauntedhuntington. com. By joining the Haunt Club, visitors are entitled to coupons that will help reduce the cost of admission. Tickets will also be available at the door.