Calais Fire Association Prepares for Big Scares with Haunted House

An actor in the 2015 Calais Fire Association Haunted House lent to the eerie atmosphere. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson


For the past four years, a dedicated crew from the Calais Fire Association has created a frighteningly enjoyable experience in their efforts to provide the community with a haunted house. Every year the event has grown in creativity and in attendance, and this year’s offering is no exception.

The haunted house has been held each year at the former high school building on Washington Street, now owned by Jack Smith. The facility’s large rooms, long hallways and high ceilings have enabled the volunteers to get creative with the scenes they feature. “It’s not for the faint of heart,” cautioned volunteer Janet Purton. Some adults, while ostensibly providing a safe chaperone for their little ones, are just as on-edge as the children, and some attendees have taken off in fright. Everyone reacts differently, though – and “some little kids love it,” as Jess McGinley pointed out. While the haunted house is filled with frights, no one is in any danger from passing through. “It’s all jump scare,” McGinley said. “There’s no touching, no reaching out and grabbing. So, it’s safe.”

This year’s haunted house features a theme that McGinley describes as “children of the corn,” with every room emphasizing the theme in some way or another. The committee has received many prop donations from the community over the past few years, and some of them are put to use this year. “It’s been awesome that we’ve had community members enjoy this just as much as we do, and to say, ‘Oh, we have Halloween stuff, you’re welcome to it,’” Crystal McLellan said. They’ve had more donated than they can use immediately, but they plan to incorporate it into the future.

“We keep upping the game,” Purton said. “We spend about a year thinking and searching for ideas. Even though the association continues to do other events, the haunted house is one event that we search all year, looking for new and ghastly things.”

The Calais Fire Association hosts many events throughout the year for the community including a Christmas party for children and games during the Fourth of July. The haunted house is different in the audience to which it caters, McLellan said. “A lot of things the association does are for little kids, so this gives us a chance to get out in the community and do something more for an older group.”

All of the proceeds from the event go back into the association’s funds, where they are put to use for the other yearly events or used to purchase necessary equipment for the Calais Fire-EMS department. “This is a tremendous money maker, with very little cost to the association,” Purton said. “Every year, it has continued to grow. It has exceeded our expectations every year.”

The association enthusiastically praises Jack Smith for allowing them to use the building each year, and notes that he has sent workers over to help or to make repairs as needed. “It’s awesome that Jack Smith lets us have this building,” McLellan said.

Working in the massive building has occasionally generated a few scares for the set-up crew, too. Various volunteers have heard strange sounds and banging, along with running water. “For a building with no plumbing, you can sometimes hear water running in the pipes,” McGinley said.


The Calais Fire Association Haunted House will run on Friday the 19th, Saturday the 20th, Friday the 26th and Saturday the 27th from 6:30 - 9 p.m. each night. Admission is $5 a person.