The town’s programs and communications coordinator Andy Kerr talks about the Oct. 30 event at the old consolidated school a block away from town hall.
“It’s going to be Old School House of Horrors,” he says, noting the play on words in reference to the fact Macdonald Museum is an old school. “So it will be Dracula, Frankenstein, all those ones that we know best.”
Hundreds of people visit the top floor of the museum every year just before Halloween.
More than 1,000 people walked up the big wooden staircase to the third floor a couple of years ago for ‘Haunted Hogwarts.’ Kerr himself proudly dressed up as Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore and greeted people at the front door. Last year was ‘Land of Scary Tails,’ a creepy take on some beloved children’s stories with Snow Fright and Little Dead Riding Hood.
“It’s always creepier than you expect when you just hear ‘Old School House of Horrors,’” he says. “There’s always a bit more of a twist to it than you would expect, and that comes largely from the selection of volunteers that we have because they all bring their own warp. That’s what we enjoy out of it every year. That makes it more interesting.”
They’ve been building their volunteer base for that night and have a Facebook group set up for that purpose.
Not surprisingly, cellphone selfies is a big thing at the Macdonald Museum’s annual haunted houses.
“I remember from two years ago when we did Haunted Hogworts everybody wanted selfies with the characters,” he recalls. “Every single character. I was Dumbledore. I was at the front door welcoming people.”
Even a local doctor wanted a picture with Dumbledore.
The people who show up, love the event – so much so that sneaking through more than once isn’t uncommon. Kerr was at a control point one year and remembers people coming through as many as nine or 10 times.
“They’d go out, they’d go down, and come back in,” he says. “I know because I was controlling the flashlight on the stairs at one point and I saw the same people. They had fun.”
The haunted house is more than just a scary time. People can make donations that night to raise funds for the Annapolis Valley Historical Society’s Macdonald Museum.
“We’re very excited about haunted house,” says museum director Janice Pugsley-Slauenwhite. “We really appreciate the town partnering with the museum, they do on several things, and haunted house – we look forward to that every year. It’s a really good fundraiser for us. It brings people into the museum.”
She said the kids are excited about being there, and special care is taken for some of the younger children who can’t go up to the scary third floor.
“We have a special room with activities for them,” she says.
And she likes the theme.
“Since Macdonald Museum was a school from 1903 to 1979 I think it’s really appropriate. We really like the theme this year. It will be very recognizable characters. So we’ll promote that well on our new website and on our Facebook.”
Middleton’s annual haunted house is open to anybody, of any age, but they do have a room where parents can bring their younger kids as Pugsley-Slauenwhite mentioned.
“It’s not a daycare, but it’s a safe room for the kids who would be too afraid to go through the upstairs room,” says Kerr. “That runs from 6 to 8 p.m.”
The entire event runs from 6 to 9 p.m.
“Generally there’s a lineup before 6 o’clock outside,” says Kerr, noting that people come from all around the area. While they don’t canvass names and numbers, Kerr said you can tell people have brought family members from other places.
“We will probably have a warm-up bonfire on the front lawn again, like we did last year, for the people who are waiting,” says Kerr. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Macdonald Museum is located at 21 School Street in Middleton.