October 31, 2022
This Halloween one family went above and beyond to provide their neighbors with a good scare and plenty of candy.
Passersby on Sunnyside Avenue could see the big signs Dan and Jericha Petz put up to advertise their “haunted house” all Halloween weekend. The couple wrote “For fun & for free!” on their fence under a huge banner that said “Free candy.” When the sun went down, a witch and a devil could be seen sitting by a fire pit in the driveway.
When Daring trick-or-treaters and their brave adults walked past the welcoming ghouls and up the Petz’s driveway through a curtain of plastic streamers, they found themselves confronted with a choice:
On the right was the “Kids Path”, an elevated wooden walk lined with baby shark toys that terminated at a bikini-clad skeleton lounging in a kiddie pool and big bowls of candy.
Braver kids could go dead ahead through the bloodstained plastic curtains, following a sign reading, “Welcome to the Petz Compound” and into the dark and misty unknown, where visitors would have to prepare for a scare.
Scares are a family affair for the Petzes, “We’ve been doing this since we’ve lived here,” Dan Petz explains, “We moved here right before COVID hit, in January of 2020.”
“I’m not into the scary stuff,” Jericha Petz said, nudging her husband Dan, “He had to ease me into it over the years.”
Setting up the haunted house has been a bonding experience for the Petzes and their kids, and they get really crafty for their decorations. “Ninety-percent of that stuff is homemade, very few things are store bought,” said Dan. Jericha added, “We find most of this stuff on the side of the road while junking.”
As an added benefit, perhaps, setting up a haunted house every year means Dan and Jericha’s kids don’t get scared by any of the stuff inside. “It’s been great for the kids because they get to see it from the beginning and it’s not too scary,” said Jericha, “It’s like ‘oh, that’s a pillowcase stuffed with Walmart bags.’ Then we name them and my daughter is like, ‘Good morning Ralph!’”
The walkthrough features such characters as “Lydia” in her straightjacket, who greets guests with convulsive screams at the entrance, and a collection of dolls that the family dressed and painted to bring out their creep factor. Jericha says that she prefers the psychologically creepy, like an old broken clock with a mask stuck inside the pendulum door, while Dan prefers the morbid gore of fake blood and plastic body parts hanging from the ceiling.
This year featured the biggest crowd the Petzes have ever had, in terms of visitors to their attraction. “Last night, on Saturday, we got forty-five to fifty kids,” Dan says, “That’s about the same number we had on Halloween last year.”
They even advertised a little this year. “We posted this on the NextDoor app and people were asking if we were charging,” said Dan, “but we aren’t doing this for money or prestige.” For the Petzes it’s all about the spirit of Halloween, giving out candy, and a good fright.