30th Annual Haunted House Draws Crowds

The crew who made this year's Haunted House at 3500 Richmond Avenue the scariest best.

The crew who made this year’s Haunted House at 3500 Richmond Avenue the scariest best: Robert and Meg Van Cleve, Greg, Catherine and Katie Bauman (the Witches) , Vicky Miller, Dannie Burrows, Brandon Scott, Pepper Van Cleve Miller, Casey Alexander, Katie Leeper, Meagan Ando and Murphy and Mac Weldon (the chainsaw brothers), Polly Weldon, Sarah Weldon, Alan Weldon

When the next generation eagerly anticipates that which scared their own parents half to death, you know you have a great Halloween tradition.

A scant three hours before the first tour this year on the 30th anniversary, the Van Cleve and Weldon families were still in the process of creating the haunted maze, but they said it would come together just in time. “It’s incredible how quickly this will be done,” said Polly Weldon, a granddaughter of Robert and Sarah Van Cleve.

In 1985, the Van Cleves didn’t get many trick or treaters, so they created a witch and  ran up and down Richmond Street calling for visitors. It was a hit with the kids, who had to see the witch by themselves.

Then the event morphed into a collection of monsters, and when Robert Towers first came up with the idea to have a theme, he decreed “No fake props” and it really took off. “The scary part was you had to go through by yourself, but when 300 came through last year, it took hours,” said Dr. Alan Weldon, a Van Cleve son-in-law. Now small groups of two and three are escorted through the maze of horror.

About four or five years ago, the group decided to begin the tour with a video that sets the stage — and also gives those in line something to do while they wait their turns. This year’s theme focused on the development of medication for the criminally insane that turns them into law-abiding, peaceful members of society. The spooky tour takes guests through the labs of Srinavasa, a labyrinth of horror built into the basement of Robert and Sarah Van Cleve’s home at 3500 Richmond Avenue.

Polly and Sarah Weldon served as tour guides. Drills, Skilsaws, chainsaws and other creepy props kept visitors on their toes.

“It got pretty crazy ,” said Weldon. “I confirmed 182 [visitors] but a lot went through after we stopped giving out numbers, probably north of 200. The neat thing is you go through by yourself or in groups of 2 or 3  so you can’t see what’s coming.”

According to Weldon, who played the role of a psychotic individual, quite a few [visitors] asked to leave part way through, some feigning illness. “Several were so scared they just dropped in the fetal position,” said Weldon. “Perhaps the best was one teenager who got to the door after waiting in line, only to look inside and say a choice word, turn around and walk out. His guide just said ‘Another walk of shame.'”

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