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Hazel Park

Brave souls invited to Hazel Park’s House of Fear

Haunted house aims to support animal shelter, Promise Zone

October 2, 2013

» click to enlarge «
Volunteer Tirchian Reckinger works on Hazel Park’s House of Fear at Green Acres Park Sept. 21. The haunted house opens the night of Oct. 4.

HAZEL PARK — Legend has it that a large family was found murdered in a home in Hazel Park. The place has had a pall of darkness over it ever since, and rumors abound of strange happenings in its rooms and halls. This month, that home will open its doors every weekend and allow brave souls to investigate what goes bump in the night.

Such is the tongue-in-cheek premise of the Hazel Park House of Fear. Now in its ninth season, the haunt is located in what is normally a storage facility at the city’s recreation center, 620 W. Woodward Heights Blvd., or Nine 1/2 Mile, one block west of I-75. The house will be open from 7-11 p.m. every weekend in October, including Fridays and Halloween, as well as the weekend of Nov. 1-2.

The self-guided tour costs $10 per person, and several people are admitted at a time. This not only helps pay for next year’s House of Fear and numerous other programs through the recreation center, but the proceeds also benefit the city’s animal shelter, always in need of money for food and supplies, and the Promise Zone, helping to provide college scholarships to all graduating seniors at Hazel Park High.

“It’s a lot of fun for the community,” said Barbara Scott, recreation coordinator for the city of Hazel Park. “I’ve lived here my whole life, and I see it as a way to give back to the community.”

The mastermind behind the House of Fear is Tom Jones, another lifelong resident of Hazel Park and foreman of the city’s Department of Public Services.

For Jones, crafting a self-contained world is something he loves creatively. It’s also nostalgic for him; when he was a child, his friend’s family would transform their home into a “spook house” each Halloween — something that inspires him to this day.

Now, he and more than 20 volunteers, among them a number of city staff members, are working together to transform the interior and exterior of the storage facility into a haunted house with an all-new layout that will be unpredictable for returning guests and newcomers alike.

“The building is divided up into actual rooms like a house would be, with bedrooms, dens, a dining room, kitchen, and we even added a twisted sewing room this year,” Jones said. “There are at least 14 rooms inside.”

Surprises will come from all directions, in rooms that are black-lit or filled with fog and flashing strobe-lights, playing with people’s expectations. While the haunted house is not appropriate for toddlers, the experience should be fine for elementary school children and older, and just as entertaining for adults of all ages, Jones said.

“I’m not on the grim side, so we’re not doing a gore show,” Jones said. “We are aiming for a professional, theatrical haunt.”

He noted that the House of Fear has been recognized by Zioptis Foundation, an independent group that evaluates more than 200 haunts each year. The House of Fear received the “Creepiest Actor Award” last year, and in the three years prior, they’ve won the “Best Bang for the Buck Award.”

The house has proven to be a popular event — one capable of raising revenue for the many causes involved.

“I feel strongly about giving back to our school system, and our animal shelter here is always in need of help,” Jones said. “It helps to keep everything going. It’s taking care of the community.”

The Ninth Annual Hazel Park House of Fear, 620 W. Woodward Heights Blvd. (9 1/2 Mile, one block west of I-75), will be open from 7-11 p.m. every weekend in October, including Fridays and Halloween, as well as the weekend of Nov. 1-2. Admission is $10 per person. For more information, visit

About the author

Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski covers Madison Heights, Hazel Park, Madison District Public Schools, Lamphere Public Schools and Hazel Park Public Schools for the Madison-Park News.

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