There is trick-or-treating.
And then there is trick-or-treating through a haunted house at 317 Barnaby Drive, Oswego.
The house seems unassuming in the days leading up to Halloween, but come All Hallows Eve, Phil Jass and his nephew Chris Untiedt, 21, turn it into a haunted house that is quickly becoming a legend.
This will be the ninth year of their haunted house, called Oswego Haunting, said Jass. It started with just him and Untiedt, and has morphed into an event of over 12 people dressed in costume, manning the stations and handing out candy… if you make it through.
“I never thought it would grow this big,” said Untiedt, who dresses as the “wolfman” for the house. “It all started off with a wheelbarrow and just sort of took off.”
When he was 12, Untiedt was grounded from going trick-or-treating with his friends, so his uncle put him in a wheelbarrow, covered him with a blanket and he spent the night scaring unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.
“It was especially fun scaring the older kids and adults,” said Untiedt.
The haunted house has grown from that wheelbarrow to include the entire two-door garage, additional tents and part of the backyard and moved down the street from Gloria Lane to Barnaby Drive.
“We expand every year,” said Jass. “It’s just getting bigger and bigger.”
The event has grown to include four fog machines, black lights, several strobe lights, and music from a Halloween track.
“We’re not into super fancy decorating,” said Jass. “We’re just trying to create some good fear.”
Last year was the first time the haunted house had a line, said Untiedt. “Normally people would walk right through, but it’s gotten so big we need time to get back into position.”
Untiedt explained that there are “hiding places” throughout, where he and his friends will lurk until they can surprise visitors. Many have tried to get a sneak peek of what the layout will look like, said Jass, so the entire thing is set up Halloween morning and taken down that evening.
Changes have been made, including the addition of plywood for wall supports instead of billowing black sheets.
“People would get so scared they’d tear the sheets down,” laughed Untiedt. “The boards are heavier, it stabilizes everything.”
Untiedt’s favorite part of the entire event is seeing everyone enjoy their efforts.
“I like to step back and see everyone partaking in my haunted house. I still can’t believe how much it’s grown.”
Jass said the haunted house has become so popular, they are almost “forced” to do it.
“People are already stopping by and asking about it,” he said. “None of us can wait.”
One question Untiedt said he is asked often is if there is a charge to go in the haunted house.
“No, and I don’t ever want it to be. I want it to be free admission for everyone to enjoy.”
For the first time though they will be accepting tips or donations this year to go into next year’s planning and purchase of equipment, as both said it’s starting to get a little pricey.
The haunted house will be in session as the first trick-or-treater arrives and will end later in the evening.
Visit the Oswego Haunting Facebook page for more information.