ELYSBURG — Another night, another fright.
The Elysburg Haunted House opens next week for its 42nd year with at least 17 new and frightening displays and rooms. It's also the first time in many years that the price of the popular Valley attraction is increasing from $10 to $15.
"Forty-two years is a long time. We must be doing something right," said Ralpho Fire Company President Erik Santor.
The haunted house is the biggest fundraiser for the two volunteer Ralpho Township companies, the Elysburg and Overlook fire departments. Last year, between 9,000 and 10,000 people showed up over seven nights in October.
Santor said visitors come from all over the state and even outside Pennsylvania to experience the house, and it gets compared now to larger attractions, such as Field of Screams in Mountville and Jason's Woods in Lancaster.
"We love to come here and scare people," Santor said. "That's what we're all about: giving people a good time and good entertainment."
Some of the new attractions feature a monk room, a cannibal room and a skunk barn. There's also a new outside part depicting a small town overrun by zombies created by a volunteer group from Maryland, complete with corpses and a stalled ambulance. It will also be the last year for the outside haunted church area, which was supposed to be torn down this year, but the release of the horror movie "The Nun" saved its demolition, Santor said.
While there are plenty of new and returning attractions, Santor wanted to keep a few surprises up his sleeve.
"I don't want to give away too much, but things change every year," Santor said. "We try to keep it new, keep it fresh, keep people coming back and get their moneys worth."
It takes a core group of 40 to 50 people to prepare the Haunted House, starting the physical work in September, and nearly 200 volunteers to staff the grounds.
Elysburg Fire Department President and Assistant Chief Harvey Boyer, the haunted house coordinator for about seven years, said the excitement of the volunteers builds the closer it gets to opening night.
"There is nothing like opening night, just to see the attractions you've been working on for weeks finally coming together," Boyer said. "For those of us who like the haunt, it is a very busy grind until opening day."
The haunted house began in 1976 at the site of an abandoned house at Shamrock Mills. The night before it was to open, it fell victim to arson and was destroyed, including the displays and some family memorabilia used in the displays.
After the fire, the Valley Gun Club offered an old building to serve as the haunted house. The house being used today was originally a 14-room home for a family until the early 1960s, when the gun club bought it to use for storage. The club eventually donated the house for the event.
The 42nd Elysburg Haunted House will be held on Oct. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27. Doors open at 7 p.m.