AUBURN — Little headless patrons sat patiently in the haunted library.
An antique baby carriage was ready to creep across the floor, pushed by unseen hands. A skeleton passenger dangled out the sides.
Monsters lay in wait.
Donna Rousseau’s one regret: The doll head spinning slow circles on a wind-up record player wasn’t quite creepy enough.
“I really need it to say, ‘Mama,'” she said.
Thursday was for fine-tuning. Friday is for frights.
It’s the second year Clover Health Care on Minot Avenue has gone all out for Halloween with a free, public haunted house that divides a rec room into four whimsical, seasonal scenes. About 500 children came through last year.
This year, it’s bigger with more volunteers, more creeps and more candy.
“(Residents) absolutely love it,” said Chris Foss, director of social services. “They love to see the children dress up; they miss those days.”
Like several staffers, Foss got her whole family involved. Her teenage daughter’s head will poke out of a platter, ready to be eaten by a witch. Foss’s mother volunteered to greet crowds as the headless horseman.
“She’s just getting in touch with her young self,” Foss said.
Planning started about a month ago, said Rousseau, Clover’s director of resident relations. For staff, it turned into a team-building exercise, designing and decorating Frankenstein’s lab, a ghostly white attic, the weirdest dinner party ever and a haunted library.
The rooms are rigged with yards and yards of fishing line to move alien tentacles and other puppets. Maintenance workers built Rousseau a spooky lab table and a haunted book shelf with books that appear to move on their own.
Local businesses donated candy and set pieces, such as the antique baby carriage.
“It had been outside and it had been exposed to the elements — it is perfect,” Rousseau said. “It had the whole squeaky-wheel thing going on by itself.”
Farm Credit East lent its employees for two days to help with the setup. Employee Sue Fyfe cut out construction paper Thursday morning for the Wheel of Doom. The wheel’s options: Trick (sticking your hand in pumpkin guts chilling in the fridge) or treat (candy).
“Oh, my gosh, it’s awesome,” Fyfe said. “I want to come.”
Residents had helped cut out black paper bats and carve pumpkins.
The haunted house officially will open at 5 p.m. Friday. Residents will get a chance to walk through first and then they’ll pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters.
Rousseau had more than 2,000 pieces at the ready.
“Last year, I had to make two emergency trips to Rite Aid because we ran out of candy,” she said. “They were wonderful when I came running in in my Dorothy costume and I was shoveling bags of candy … It was crazy. It was a beautiful crazy.”
Go and do
Haunted houses and trick-or-treating at Clover Health Care and St. Mary’s d’Youville Pavilion
Both are free and open to the public
Clover’s haunted house
When: 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: 440 Minot Ave., Auburn
d’Youville’s haunted house
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: 102 Campus Ave., Lewiston
LEWISTON — St. Mary’s d’Youville Pavilion also will open its doors for an annual community haunted house Friday.
Activities Coordinator Tami Girardin said the facility has hosted trick-or-treating for at least 15 years. It added a haunted house five years ago. It draws between 600 and 900 children each year.
D’Youville transforms its resident dining room into a haunted maze by hanging sheets. Scarers in costumes lurk inside. After a walk through the maze, children visit one of the units where the residents pass out candy and admire the little ghosts and goblins.
“They talk about it for two or three months (afterward); it’s quite the conversation,” Girardin said.
She has more than 180 gallons of candy at the ready, much of it donated by the staff, residents and community. Volunteers help the night run without a hitch.
“(This year), we have a Superman and Superwoman who want to be in the haunted house,” she said. “I don’t know how we’ll theme them in there, but we’ll do our best. Hey, we don’t turn anybody away. If someone wants to help us, we’ll have them no matter how they want to come in.”