Or, HOW DID KINGSBURY CEMETERY GET STARTED??
Also see MY HAUNTING PHILOSOPHY
(For those with tiny attention spans) If you build it, they will come. And they did. The end.
Too many episodes of Scooby Doo as a kid may have been a contributing factor. I've always loved Halloween since I was a kid and had a fascination with all things spooky. Even so, as a kid, I was really a big chicken when I came to anything I thought was really scary, and that included haunted houses! I can still remember going to my first "real" haunted house, put on by a youth group at the neighborhood Methodist church. I can't remember how old I was, probably 5th or 6th grade, but I do remember my sister (who was three years younger) being a lot braver than myself. I also remember making numerous “haunted houses” with friends as a kid. And there was the time my cousin and I got in trouble for bringing a whole bunch of fresh garlic in from the garden and stunk up the basement of my Grandmothers house. (To ward off Vampires of course!) I have vivid memories of trick-or-treating about a block from my house, where a Medical Doctor lived. His office and practice were attached to his home. Several years in a row I remember him putting a red light bulb on the porch and having a medical school teaching skeleton sitting in a chair in the entryway to the house. The bowl of candy sat in the skeleton’s lap and I’m sure he had some fishing line strung to the arm to make it move. An indelible childhood mental snapshot. As a teen I worked on a couple of Haunted Houses with various youth organizations. Those I liked a lot, probably because I was the one in charge of doing the scaring, instead of being the victim. I guess that deep down I've always really loved entertaining people and this has taken on lots of different forms over the years.
That’s some background,……. But back to the original question. How did all this craziness get started?? One day surfing the net back in August of 2000, I came across Doug Fergusons now famous Flying Crank Ghost, on his Phantasmechanics.com website. (FCG to those of you in the haunt industry. If you’ve never seen one look it up!) I like to tinker with mechanics and electronics, so it looked like a fun and interesting project. That year the Flying Crank Ghost mesmerized trick-or-treaters and adults alike, flying in the dark garage, illuminated only by a black light. Accompanying the FCG was an assortment of tombstones and a cemetery fence with the cemetery name, taken from the street name where we started all this. Kingsbury Avenue. On top of this I decided to dress up in a black cloak to hand out candy and had a fog machine and spooky sound effects in the front entryway of the house.
There were a lot of positive comments generated that first year from people who viewed the display and there were several trick-or-treaters who were ready to come on in through my house, thinking that I was offering a haunted house tour! This inspired my first attempt at a walk through haunt the next year in 2001. Lots of work, web surfing, and prop building later, along with the important help of a volunteer crew of about 20 friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, the first incarnation Kingsbury Cemetery Haunted House came to life. The cemetery, which at first had only 6 lonely tombstones, expanded to take up most of the front yard with up to 20 tombstones. The first year we had one fog machine. Since then we’ve had as much as six machines running simultaneously, often filling a whole city block with fog on a still night. The effect is spectacular if the air is still and the ground and air temperature are just right. Over the years we’ve continually improved the props, sets and costumes, as well as the training of our volunteer actors, rivaling and exceeding the quality of most “pro” Haunts. Lots of time has been invested learning new skills in robotics, computer control, pneumatics, stage lighting and themeing. We’ve attended dozens of haunted house related conventions and visited over 20 professional haunts around the country, including many in the top ten list in the country. Often getting behind the scenes tours. On the off season props fill up my attic, garage, shed basement and many other nooks and crannies throughout the house. Much to the chagrin of my incredibly loving and patient wife. Why do I and my staff spend so much time and effort? Because we want you to have the best haunted house experience possible. Period. We want you to be wowed by the costumes, sets and special effects. We want your brain to wonder if the stories we write have some basis in truth. We want the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. We want you scare you so bad that you wet yourself and cower in a corner. Your fear is crack to our ghouls. They love it, they live for it, and once you get them started they have no Off switch.
Besides scaring and entertaining the neighborhood, we’ve always felt that it was very important to contribute to the community in other ways. From the beginning we collected cans of food as “admission” and donated the food to the Corning Community Food Pantry. The idea worked extremely well, and ever since the Food Pantry has been our beneficiary. Over the first ten years we estimate that we've collected over 7000 cans of food. We intend to continue to contribute to the Corning Community Food Pantry through a cash donation of one dollar per ticket. This new cash donation will benefit the pantry even more as they can make a cash donation go much further with bulk food purchases than the donation of actual food items ever would. The hunger in our communities is significant and the need for donations is great. The fact that we are able to help the pantry in a significant way is one of the biggest motivating factors driving us forward.