The Spencer family on Hunters Bay Drive in Huntsville are big fans of Halloween. So much so that eight years ago they began ‘Haunters Bay Drive’ and elaborately decorate their home every year.
“Both my wife and I love Halloween and I have a background in sculpture, so slowly every year we’ve added more to it,” said Steve Spencer. “I even had to build an attic in our garage to hold everything. There’s one box up there that says Christmas.”
Four years ago a new family, the MacKinnons, moved in a few doors down.
“They came over and asked us what Halloween was like and we said we are Halloween,” he said with a laugh. “They jumped right on board.”
The MacKinnons created the fear shack, a walk-through haunted house.
“It’s great to see the reaction of kids and families that come by,” said Spencer. “On average we get 200 to 300; this year, I’m afraid. We have neighbours actually dropping off boxes of candy.”
Some more neighbours are getting on board and really getting into decorating their home for Halloween.
“It’s something for the kids, especially right now. There’s nothing to do and nowhere to go,” said Spencer. “It’s a popular spot because it’s a loop and kids can circle around and be done.”
With COVID-19, other popular destinations in town such as Muskoka Heritage Place’s The Great Pumpkin Trail and a number of residents are opting not to participate in trick-or-treat festivities.
“I know a lot of people are afraid to do Halloween this year because of where they work and they don’t want to get anyone sick,” said Spencer. “We called the Town to ensure we weren’t going to get fined for doing this. They were completely supportive, and we were encouraged to call the OPP to let them know we’re doing this. They said if it’s too much, give us a call and we’ll send squad cars over to handle the lineups. It’s just being cautious.”
The families start decorating in September and continue to add to it each day. Some decorations won’t be put out the day before Halloween so the weather doesn’t ruin them.
Parents are encouraged to take their young ones through the fear shack during the day, at 2 p.m. on October 31. “There won’t be any of the jump actors in there and everything stays still,” said Spencer.
A preview of the fear shack will be held on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.
“We’re just two families who love Halloween,” said Spencer. “We’re going to keep doing this. It changes every year, it’s never the same. Some years we do themes. We’ve done a whole Area 51 concept, which we’re looking to bring back.”
COVID-19 protocols will be required: physical distancing and masks. Only one family will be allowed in the fear shack at a time. “We ask everybody to be safe and practise social distancing and all will be well,” said Spencer.
Spencer and his family will be handing out candy through a shoot so physical distancing can be maintained.
The families will also be accepting food donations for The Bay Food Crew, a group of five local businesses who support the Manna Food Bank in Bracebridge, the Table Food Bank in Huntsville, the Burks Falls and District Food Bank, the Baysville Food Pantry, and the Salvation Army food banks in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, and Huntsville.
Haunters Bay Drive is at 280 and 288 Hunters Bay Drive. Halloween night trick-or-treating starts at 6 p.m. with a fear shack preview at 7 p.m. on October 30 as well as a less-scary preview for young trick-or-treaters at 2 p.m, on October 31.
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