We all have a neighbor like Allen Redmon.Instead of working to avoid a revenant run-in come Halloween night, these sinister enthusiasts transform their little slice of the col-de-sac into a cemetery, an evil carnival or some other ghastly scene for the sole purpose of attracting hordes zombies, ghouls and other precarious creatures.
“We are those people that decorate their yard. And the neighbors are like, ‘oh God, here they go again,’” says the Medina native, who serves as webmaster and haunted attraction liaison for the Cleveland Haunt Club.
Behind the cobwebs, these spooktacular displays are often part of a dedicated community of horrifically creative Clevelanders.
The Cleveland Haunt Club, a nonprofit started in 2015, is a group for Halloween and horror lovers alike to network, share photos of displays and learn decorating tips from each other. The club has drawn more than 3,000 members on Facebook — some from as far as Michigan and Pennsylvania. The most hardcore members get together about once a month to discuss the business of haunting and host educational sessions.
Recent lesson have included tips on how to build an animatronic crank ghost, how to create fog and how to use lighting controllers.
“We’ll teach simple things as far as taking a heat gun and using a milk jug to create a skull,” Redmon says. “But we’ll get more advanced. I even taught a class on computerized animations, which is my specialty.”
As Halloween lurks nearer, more display skeletons, witches and ghosts are resurrected from attics and basements and propped up on October streets. Many members spend the nights and weekends leading up to the holiday traveling across Northeast Ohio to check out fellow members’ displays. A look at the Haunt Map 2020, the club’s online resource for finding DIY haunted houses, reveals more than 120 spooky sites — often stamped with an official Cleveland Haunt Club sign — across Northeast Ohio.
Most houses have a theme. Ghastly cemeteries, sinister clowns, kid-friendly blow-ups, and even a Jurassic Park-themed display punctuate Halloween night with startled shrieks and relieved laughs.
“Some of the members really push the boundaries,” says Redmon. “Our members include everyone from yard displays to home haunts, which you can walk through, to commercial haunts.”
In 2020, a truly horrific year, gathering has meant virtual meetings and DIY prop building. But despite COVID-19, The Cleveland Haunt Club has been able to continue the haunt. In August, for example, the group held its annual Haunted Garage Sale at Cahoon Park in Bay Village to raise money for the group and bring some spookiness to the community. Typically, the group hosts a bake sale, but this year, with guidance the local health department, participating members of the group instead donated spooky items and more to sell in the garage sale. Donations and year membership fees cover the cost of the website, insurance, the annual nonprofit dues and more.
Plans are already being made for next year’s sale, and the club is eager to expand their events to cover more of Cleveland and the surrounding areas.
“We don’t do this to make money,” Redmon says. “We’re doing this because we love Halloween and horror, and we want to help people get into the love of what we do. People set these [displays] up, and they just want others to enjoy them.”
All of the hard work leads to one day (or one month, really): Halloween. For Redmon, it’s combination of sweet and sour, thrill and creativity, that makes the day special.
“The fun of being scared, the fun of decorating, the fun of making something out of nothing,” Redmon says. “The people that drive by and look at it and go, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ That’s the fun of it. That’s what makes it worth it.”
Click here to read our list of 10 haunted houses to visit this weekend.