For six years, Bob and Barb Kaye, along with droves of loyal volunteers, have worked for months to serve the community countless scares at the Webster City Haunted House during the Halloween season.
Barb Kaye said about 20 volunteers work to set up and run the Haunted house each year. For many of those regulars, life has been going well. Some of the volunteers were former Electrolux employees who brought their technical skills to make the Haunted House well recognized in the community and state.
"We've had a lot of faithful followers and volunteers since the start," Barb Kaye said.
Volunteers at the Webster City Haunted House are preparing for visitors with the house’s opening date set for Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with dates also set for Oct. 25, 26 and on Halloween at the same time.
Now, Bob Kaye said those former employees have found jobs or are enrolled in school. While Bob Kaye said it is a good thing that these volunteers have found work, it limits what they can put in to the Haunted House that has built a reputation rivaling larger ones across Iowa.
"It's kind of sad that we just don't have the time or, like me, the energy. There's still an expense to it too," Bob Kaye said.
As Bob and Barb Kaye plan to take down the second home they purchased to host the Haunted House in, located at 134 Third St. behind Motor Inn, they and volunteers are still preparing to host a truly terrifying experience this year. The Haunted House is a labyrinth of dark rooms, long hallways, and scares behind every corner.
"I don't think some people realize how much work is put into this," volunteer Aaron Romp said. "It's a lot of coordination, dedication, construction. It's a lot more than you'd think. Still, it's something we like to bring to the town."
The contents and themes of the rooms change as volunteers bring in new ideas and the house acquires new props. Bob Kaye promises an old favorite is returning for those brave, or foolish, enough to return to the house or come for the first time. Volunteer Chris Rollins said returning visitors will notice some changes to the regular rooms. Some are subtle, and others are not.
"There are changes to the rooms that have been here the past three years and they're subtle, but they'll know it right away," Rollins said. "As soon as they get into the room and they think they know what's going to happen, pow, they don't know what's going to happen," Rollins said.
The Webster City Haunted House almost didn't happen this year. Barb Kaye said that work on the house usually begins in July or August, and they were busy with renovations to their home. They said it was the work of Christopher Elliott, their daughter's boyfriend, who started working on the house in their absence.
"It was him who wouldn't let it go," Bob Kaye said. "He had just as much fun as all of us with it."
Still, Barb Kaye said visitor numbers were down last year, and Bob Kaye said the feeling among the volunteers is that the Webster City Haunted House may have run its course. Still, Bob Kaye said he hopes with their closing, the younger generation will step up to try and bring the same level of scares to the community.
"If this is our last year, and this could really be our last year, it's a sad thing," Bob Kaye said.
This year, the house is continuing to strongly suggest that visitors bring a canned food item for admission that will be donated to a church food bank.
The halls of the Webster City Haunted House will echo with screams once again beginning this Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The house will also be open on Oct. 25, 26 and 31 at that same time. Whether or not this year will be the last for the Webster City Haunted House, both Bob and Barb Kaye, and the many volunteers at the house, have had many good times within it.
"We just all liked hanging out and scaring people. If it's over, it's over, but it was fun," Bob Kaye said.