Utica firefighters routinely risk their lives to help others — but Utica’s bravest aren’t above giving others a good scare now and again.
The Utica Fire Protection District opens its annual fundraiser “Spookhouse” this Friday. For a small fee, visitors can shriek their way through a maze riddled with faux body parts, bloodstained actors and other frightening delights.
Ben Brown, Utica’s assistant fire chief, remembered going through the Spookhouse as a boy in the mid-1990s and loving it.
“It’s good and scary and it’s fun,” he said. “But we will tame it down for children younger than 7 and we’ll turn on the lights if we want to.”
Brown and other firefighters were hard at work this week filling the ambulance bay with plywood to create narrow corridors where actors and technicians can work their creepy magic.
“We really love doing this. We have a good time and we try to give you your money’s worth,” said Lt. Robin Travis, a Spookhouse volunteer. “We’ve been doing this almost 20 years now, and while we do recycle some stuff, we try to put new things in every year.”
Visitors will notice an electric chair, disemboweled torsos and lots of fake blood. There’s even a guillotine standing outside the station.
“It does actually work,” Brown observed with a touch of pride, “but it’s not sharp enough to actually hurt anything.”
If you go
Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under. The Spookhouse is handicapped accessible.
Hours this weekend are 7-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6-9 p.m. Sunday. Next weekend, the Spookhouse will be open 7-11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25 and Saturday, Oct. 26 and 6-9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27.
A concession stand will be available for refreshments.
The cause this year
The Spookhouse aids the department in purchasing extrication equipment, radios and other safety equipment, but Brown said most of this year’s proceeds will help fund a new ambulance.
For more information, call (815) 228-4454.
Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.