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Newspaper article in Elmira Star-Gazette
Thursday October 26th 2007
Article is Copyright Star-Gazette 2007

Corning family filled with Halloween 'spirits'

John P. Cleary, Staff

I may have found someone who loves Halloween even more than I do.

Since 2000, Keith Hoover of Corning has transformed his Kingsbury Avenue property into a haunted Halloween attraction.

Over the years, it's grown into a state-of- the-art, professional-quality spook house with no detail unattended.

"It's just something I enjoy," said Hoover, a technologist at Corning Inc.'s Sullivan Park.

"People in the neighborhood get a kick out of it. It's kind of cool to be known as the haunted house on the street."

About 20 friends and relatives pitch in to make his Kingsbury Cemetery attraction come alive each year.

Every Halloween, the event has a different theme supported by a back story Hoover posts on his Web site, www.kingsburycemetery.com.

The stories trace the horrifying history of a fictional branch of the Kingsbury family.

This year's story tells of a seance gone horribly wrong. As the story says, some doors are better left unopened ...

The theme is important, if you're trying to really scare people. Too many haunted houses are just jumbles of scary things, Hoover said.

"You've got Dracula in one room, a mad scientist in the next, a chainsaw guy," he said.

"When you go through a haunted house like that, there's nothing that ties them together, no overall theme. It's just a whole mishmash of things."

His stories are so well thought out, with real events and Corning-area locations sprinkled in, many people have asked Hoover if they were true.

Hoover pours a lot of time and even more money into his haunted house. He won't say how much he's invested, but says it's a considerable sum.

He and his wife, Anna, attend haunted house trade shows and conventions, seeking out new thrills.

This year alone he's added a computer-controlled, animatronic skeleton that forms the hub of a system of programmable lights, audio systems and electronic switches, a new computer-controlled lighting system synchronized to his soundtrack, theater-style lighting effects, computerized animations and many new props.

It's not all high-tech, though. Hoover and his friends crafted a new facade for his garage out of plastic foam cut and painted to look like a stone wall.

The haunted house at 180 Kingsbury Ave. will be open from 7 to 10 p.m. today and Halloween night.

Admission is two cans of food, which will be donated to the Corning Community Food Pantry. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

John P. Cleary is a staff writer for the Star-Gazette. Neighbors runs Tuesday through Sunday on this page.