“I kind of grew up with the haunted house and the haunted house grew up with me,” said Brower, a 2003 Spring Lake High School graduate who builds many of the props for the spook house.
The Haunted Hall that has been so much a part of Brower’s boyhood is open from 7-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at the Herman Miller warehouse, 17155 VanWagoner Road, just west of U.S. 31.
Admission is $13 or $20 for a VIP express pass with no waiting in line. Discounts of up to $3 per ticket are available with canned good donations for Love INC. The discount is $1 per can.
This year’s Haunted Hall features two different fright experiences — a house of phobias and an illusions trip with 3-D.
At more than 20,000 square feet, the Haunted Hall is one of the largest in West Michigan, according to Brower, who recently graduated from law school in Chicago. It features a coffin drop entrance, a shrinking room, chainsaw room, claustrophobia room and more. There are bones (real ones), blood stains and more than 50 creatures/actors that will bump you in the night.
Brower’s mantra hangs in the haunted halls: “Don’t be afraid of the dark. Be afraid of what’s in it.”
The Haunted Hall has evolved since Brower and his family brainstormed the idea for a Boy Scout Troop 14 haunted house fundraiser in 1999 — after visiting a similar venue in Fort Wayne, Ind., operated by Brower’s uncle.
The local Haunted Hall garnered its name from its inception in the former Spring Lake Village Hall’s gymnasium on Savidge Street.
“On our first night in 1999, we had 30 people go through and we considered it a roaring success,” Brower said.
In recent years, between 5,000 and 6,000 scare-seekers visit the Haunted Hall during Halloween season.
In the last two years, the venture — now operating under the name Western Youth Leadership Development — has collected more than two tons of food for Love INC.
Brower said the National Kidney Foundation, in honor of local resident Dave Conrad, is also a recipient this year.
It takes a cast of volunteers more than a month to set up the spook scene, Brower said. But the time and effort are worth the response, he added.
“People want to and love to be scared,” Brower said. “People come here because it’s like seeing a horror movie in real life. The fear they experience here is so different than the fear and stress of real life that it becomes a release. It’s a scare they can handle and cope with.”