Nightmare at Beaver Lake returns for Halloween haunt

October 17, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Zombie motorcyclists, like a flock of bats out of hell, should roar from the dark to claim a Sammamish Plateau park as passers-by watch in terror.

The scene sounds as if it was lifted from a zombie flick, but Nightmare at Beaver Lake organizers planned a zombie motorcycle ride to open the annual Halloween haunt.

With the help of long time Nightmare at Beaver Lake makeup artists Angie Steklenburg, Ray Naglich is transformed into a zombie bite victim Oct. 14. Photo by Lillian Tucker

The motorcyclists, led by former child star Danny Bonaduce, a radio host for KZOK-FM — a Nightmare at Beaver Lake sponsor — plan to open 11 nights of frights in the park. The event returns Oct. 19 and continues through Halloween.

Nightmare attendees should prepare for characters lifted from tales by Edgar Allan Poe and H.G. Wells, plus a ransacked cityscape reminiscent of “The Walking Dead” before a finale inside a haunted house.

Event organizers expect more than 10,000 people to venture into the dark forest and more than 20 scenes arranged along a trail and inside park buildings. Nightmare hosted more than 12,000 attendees last year, and organizers hope for 14,000 people to head into the haunt in the coming nights.


‘Our intent is to scare you’

Scare Productions and the Rotary Club of Sammamish partner to produce Nightmare.

Proceeds from the event benefit scholarships for local students, community organizations and international polio eradication, as well as other projects.

Teams use handmade and prefabricated props to transform a forested trail and 8,000 square feet inside buildings.

The action amps up each night as the clock ticks past 8 p.m.

If the family-friendly scare is rated PG, the action later on in the evening shifts to PG-13. The intensity increases later in the evening as “roamers” — actors outfitted in more elaborate makeup and costumes — slip into the haunt.

“It’s a haunted house. Our intent is to scare you,” said Kelcey Hendricks, a Scare Productions vice president. “That’s what we’re in the business of.”

Organizers conduct a sinister-sounding blood run to add more gore — and fake blood — to the haunt just before 8 p.m.

“We just add more blood to all of the actors,” Hendricks said. “We just go through from person to person and just give ’em a little extra.”


Combination of scaring, caring

Organizers structure the haunt to include pulse-pounding scenes interspersed among quieter moments, almost like a roller coaster ride.

Each night requires up to 200 volunteers — including more than 100 costume-clad actors — to scare attendees.

The upcoming Nightmare included a more aggressive marketing push to boost attendance.

Organizers dribbled out snippets on Facebook — including character biographies and photos — in the month before opening night and offered a sold-out Groupon to lure people.

For the blood-spattered, jagged-scarred organizers, scaring equals caring.

The organizers set a goal to raise $200,000 from Nightmare in the days ahead.

“We’ve upped our goals. We want to get 14,000 people through. We want to hit the $200,000 mark so we can give more to the community,” said Cary Young, Rotary Club of Sammamish secretary.

Kent-based Scare Productions is a nonprofit organization, and members earned renown for creating haunted houses to benefit local charities throughout the region.

“I started working with Scare Productions down in Des Moines 20 years ago,” Hendricks said. “I was 14 years old and I would sweep the floors. It was just fun to be involved with something that was exciting, kind of edgy and, at the same time, for a good cause.”


If you go

  • Nightmare at Beaver Lake
  • Oct. 19-21 and 24-31
  • Beaver Lake Park, Southeast 24th Street, Sammamish
  • The family scare runs from 7-7:45 p.m. nightly. The full scare runs from 8-10 p.m. Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, and from 8-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Tickets: $10 per person for a family scare; $16 per person for a full scare. Donate a can of food and receive a $1 discount on tickets.
  • The event includes free parking and a free shuttle service from the parking area to the haunt.
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