Garden City When the dark side of Garden City materializes, it’s hard not to look on the bright side.
That is, organizers and volunteers behind the largest known haunted house in southwest Kansas aren’t looking to make a buck this Halloween. Instead, they’ve been building bloody sets and other frightening fabrications over the past several weeks as a benefit for the Windsor Hotel on Main Street.
Known as the “Dark Side of Garden,” the haunted house project is spearheaded by The Garden City Noon Lions Club and is serving as a fundraiser for the Finney County Preservation Alliance, the nonprofit group that works to restore and renovate the national historic landmark built in 1887.
Shelby Hanneman, a member of the Noon Lions Club and media chairman, said at least 50 volunteers already have put in their time, and toil toward building the scenes and scares inside the vacant building at 1216 Fleming St., formerly the location of Aaron’s Rental and just north of Westlake Ace Hardware.
Hanneman said the Noon Lions, a community service-oriented group and a local chapter of Lions Club International, participates in a handful of fundraisers throughout the year, their signature project being an effort to raise funds for eyeglasses and eye appointments for needy area children.
Hanneman said this year the group was looking to break away from their normal activities and do something “a little different and off the wall.”
“We found out the Preservation Alliance had canceled their plans for a haunted house at the Windsor, so we thought let’s partner with them,” Hanneman said. “We were looking at our options, like where and how much it would cost. Our original idea was to do something real simple, just three or four tiny spooks — nothing real crazy. It definitely developed into something of a much larger scale.”
Inside the large empty building on Fleming Street, at least 200 feet of wall covered with Visqueen — a brand of fire-retardant polyethylene plastic sheeting — has been erected to create the tunnels guests will use to meander through the spooky space.
Spider webs cover every nook and cranny of the tunnels covered in black tarp. Volunteers still are working on several of the scary sights and sounds along the haunted hallways, but little surprises already have popped up along the way: creepy crawlers caught in webs, decapitated heads hung from the ceilings and life-size ghouls greeting guests at every turn.
Hanneman said the haunted house is divided into two alternatives: a family-friendly part and a second, more-costly haunt described by organizers as “terrifying.”
The cost for the first section is $9, and for both haunts is $14; tickets are available at the door.
In addition, $10 advance tickets are available for both haunts at area businesses.
“The quality is going to be extraordinary. We want people to realize we’ve put in the time and money and effort, and it’s going to be a really good and scary time,” the Lions Club representative added.