Neighborhood goes all-out with haunted house

A few decorations two years ago evolve into over-the-top spectacle
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili Journal features editor
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The Jackson family’s Auburn home is haunted, but thankfully only once a year. Each year, the family creates a walkthrough haunted house at their Finley Street home, inviting daring neighbors and trick-or-treaters to walk through the creepy display. What started as a few decorations in the front yard two years ago has turned into an over-the-top creation that involves not only the family, but also the efforts of several neighbors. “I’ve always loved Halloween,” said Tony Jackson. “Stuff like that is always great. We didn’t have that much money as a kid, so we weren’t able to do stuff like that. Now that I’m grown up, I get to decide what my money is spent on.” And that money is spent wisely – Jackson and fiancée Rachel Meiller hit up the clearance sales the day after Halloween each year, buying all they can from Auburn to Madison Avenue in Sacramento. Last year’s finds include motion-activated skeletons and a ghoul that crawls along the ground. But it’s not just store-bought scares. The haunted house runs the length of the Jacksons’ wraparound porch and is full of friends and neighbors in costume. Even Jackson’s soon-to-be mother-in-law, Denise Meiller, gets in on the fun, dressing up as a witch and stirring a boiling cauldron in the haunted house. “I was at every drugstore today in Auburn,” Meiller said Monday, buying last-minute decorations and props. She triumphantly held up a severed foot, to Jackson’s delight. “We’re going to have a guy over here running a power saw,” he said, pointing to a corner of the haunted house, where a costumed neighbor will be performing amputations. “It gets bigger every year,” Jackson said. “More production every year.” Jackson advises that the haunted house is truly scary, but actors are in constant communication and let each other know if a young child is coming through so they can tame it down. Joel Bigelow lives across the street and said he decided to help out because it’s a fun, safe thing for kids in the neighborhood to do. He’s helped set up the haunted house, and will be in costume inside, ready to scare anyone who gets too close. “We have a lot of foot traffic on this street,” Bigelow said. “A lot of kids walking up and down the street.” While Jackson won’t give away all the secrets of his haunted house, he said people walking through can expect to see plenty of ghosts and goblins, a noose and a window display guaranteed to make people shriek. The house is lit by strobe and blacklights, and there are smoke machines to add to the ambience. A mini-graveyard has been set up out front to let people know where the haunted house starts, and those brave enough to make it to the end will get candy. “It brings people together,” Jackson said. “I think that part of it is great. We bring a lot of people into the whole thing to be a part of it.” Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at ---------------- Haunted house Where: 452 Finley St., Auburn When: From dusk until 11 p.m. or later Monday, Oct. 31 Cost: Free ---------------- Halloween displays There are several hauntingly decorated houses to see in Auburn this Halloween. At 185 Rancho Circle, Auburn, neighbors say the Halloween display includes gravestones and a horse pulling a pumpkin. “My dogs have been barking at the blow-up pumpkins for weeks,” said neighbor Nancy Taylor. Ken Brizendine has set up an elaborate miniature haunted house in the Castle City Mobile Home Park. He said he started building the display for his neighbors, but 13 years later it has grown into a spectacle that should be enjoyed by all. The display is open all weekend at 1920 Sunset Drive, Newcastle and Brizendine said that while it’s spookiest at night, the detail can be seen best during daylight. The haunted house has an array of motion-activated features, including 6-foot-tall pirates, and a miniature graveyard. “It’s something to see,” Brizendine said. “It’s got lights that go on and off and different noises and just all kinds of stuff.”