Quail Creek haunted house scares families (video)
Oct. 31, 2013 at 5:31 a.m.
The students of haunted high school were up late Thursday night.
But they weren't normal students; they were volunteers of the Quail Creek Volunteer Fire Station's annual haunted house.
For the past three or four years, Roxanne Sanchez, 29, has brought her children and their grandmother to the annual haunted house to celebrate Halloween before trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.
The fire station has kept the tradition going for eight years, and each year, the volunteers have since designed a bigger, better and scarier haunted house, says volunteer and coordinator Colin Rangnow, 36.
He is one of the masterminds behind the Halloween project, which changes themes each year. Because Rangnow's father-in-law, Ron Kramer, is the fire chief, they are able to develop the haunted house into what it is now. Each year, more and more families come to the annual attraction. He estimated between 500 and 600 people come out for the fun.
"The first time was definitely a learning experience," Rangnow said.
He's been to many haunted houses in Austin and in other larger cities and gleans ideas to bring to Quail Creek. The main thing he tries to keep in mind when devising his plan of execution is to keep the haunted house one theme.
This year's theme included classrooms that guests might expect in a real high school. There was a shop room, a science lab, a music hall and more, wound into three of the six truck bays at the fire department.
"It can get confusing, and then it's not as scary if there's not one theme," he said.
Doug Parham, 39, was one of the first people to head through the haunted high school with his wife, Erica Stehling, 33, and stepson Joshua Stehling, 13.
They've been coming since Rangnow started the haunted house, and Parham said it's been getting better every year.
"It's scarier. It's louder, and it's more colorful and creative," Parham said.
He said his favorite room was the science lab, where it looked like a girl was getting chopped into pieces.
Before heading into the haunted house, the Sanchez family ate dinner at one of the many tables in open bays of the firehouse. Chili dogs and potato chips were on the menu and part of the festivities hosted by the volunteers of the Quail Creek neighborhood.
"We live in the neighborhood and go trick-or-treating afterward," grandmother Estella Sanchez said. "The kids like it, but we don't go through the haunted house."
Roxanne Sanchez's children, Andrea, 16; Ethan, 13; Ryan, 12; Heaven, 9; and Michael Martinez, 6, waited for more family to arrive before they corralled at the end of the line to prepare for the scary adventure.
"I'm petrified," said Heaven, pulling her pointy witch hat snug over the crown of her head. "I'm excited, and I'm scared."
Andrea's arms were wrapped around young Heaven, who was also preparing herself for the fright ahead of them. Heaven's eyes were locked on the back door of the haunted house, where people were exiting. Some of the children leaving were crying. In front of them stood their brothers, Ethan, Ryan and Michael in a row ready to lead the way.
"Are you ready?" Heaven asked Andrea, who was getting anxious about going in.
Rangnow, who was manning the front door dressed as a zombie movie police officer - "you know, the ones who always die first in the movies," he said - opened the door and let the boys into the first room.
After the boys entered the door, the volunteers, donning masks of zombies and other Halloween nightmares, stepped outside in front of Heaven and Andrea, taunting and scaring them.
"No! I don't want to go through," Heaven screamed, pushing back against her older sister. Andrea pulled her away from the entrance, and they headed back to their mom, who was waiting at the end of the long driveway with Estella Sanchez.
Once Heaven was with her mom and grandmother, she calmed down and waited for the boys to come out.
"They're going to come out crying," she said.
The three boys trailed out the back door of the haunted house - Michael in tears, and Ethan and Ryan close behind him.
Ethan wasn't sure if he'd return for another visit next year.
"They'll probably make it even scarier," he said.