Fear is brewing in the basement of City Hall.
The annual Nightmare on Third Street Haunted House is back, and it keeps getting bigger.
“Every year we’ve been able to add a little bit to it,” said Lynn Diveley, records clerk for the Ottumwa Police Department. “When we started out the first year, everyone was pretty skeptical. They didn’t know if we’d really be able to pull it off and make money.”
School Resource Officer Mike Murphy, Diveley and a few others started the haunted house in 2003, and Officer Brandon Gravett got involved in 2007.
“When I was appointed to DARE [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] Officer, we were thinking of fundraising ideas and [Diveley] and some other individuals had done haunted houses in the past, and I thought that’d be a good idea,” Gravett said.
Diveley said that last year the committee was able to eliminate plastic divides separating the 23 rooms and painted the entire house black. Everything in the house is made from scratch, including the walls, which are now made from materials the committee finds and assembles.
All proceeds from the house go toward the local Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) programs.
“This is our main fundraiser for the year,” said Gravett, who heads the DARE program. “We don’t have to do a lot of the little fundraising because of it.”
Last year, approximately 2,300 people went through the house, raising nearly $14,000 for the programs.
An average of 35 volunteers help run the show every night and they’ll be implementing a new fear in this year’s house: clowns.
The clown room was painted with fluorescent paint and each clown was drawn by Diveley and then painted by her and the committee. Diveley said the haunted house is a great creative outlet.
“Most people fear something,” she said. “We try to find that fear for just about everybody. If anybody has some type of nightmare that really frightens them, we may touch on it down there.”
Depending on how fast you move — or how scared you are — it can take a person 10 to 20 minutes to get through the house.
And because it’s “pretty intense,” Diveley advises parents to think before bringing their children.
DARE fundraiser continues to grow in production, popularity
Fear is brewing in the basement of City Hall.
- CNHI/Southeast Iowa
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