By Michael S. Hoey


The former fire station at the Brad Liddle Safety Building in Delavan is haunted.

At least that is what the Southern Lakes Association of the Deaf wants the public to think for three weekends in October.

In two weeks, a five-person committee and volunteers transformed the former fire station into 15 ghoulish chambers. Scenes include a gruesome butcher’s shop, several outdoor settings and a cemetery with gravestones etched with the names of famous deaf people. Up to 25 volunteers bring the chambers to life as guests 9 years old and older line up to brave the haunted house.

The Southern Lakes Association of the Deaf operated a haunted house for the first time last year at its clubhouse at 715 E. Wisconsin St. but discovered the space was too small, said event chairman Casey Kelly. The association asked the city about using the former fire station, which is three times bigger than the space the organization used last year. The city allowed the association to use the space and charged a deposit but no rent.

Kelly said the Southern Lakes Association of the Deaf will give the city a percentage of the profits in return for its generosity. The rest of the money raised will go toward the association’s building fund.

“Halloween is my favorite event, and spooking people is a fun past time,” Kelly said.

The Southern Lakes Association of the Deaf is a non-profit organization that provides recreational, educational, cultural and social events to members and non-members. According to its website, the organization recognizes the diverse needs of deaf adults and is dedicated to educating and helping those in need. The association welcomes its hearing friends to socialize among the deaf to enhance their signing skills and to learn and respect the deaf culture. The roots of the organization date to 1905 as the Home Club of the Deaf.

Kelly said the haunted house would not have been possible if not for the hard work of the five committee members and the contributions of the volunteers who helped construct, set up and staff it.

Kelly said many of the materials for the event were donated, some by local businesses and some from other neighboring cities like Beloit. Much of the construction material came from businesses that closed down. Some of the Halloween decorations and sets were donated by Spirit Halloween.

Kelly said the house is open to kids 9 years old and older, and the monsters inside tone down their acts when they know someone younger than 12 is coming through.

The point of the event, Kelly said, is to show that deaf people can do anything. Kelly said deaf people are very visual and get scared just like anyone else. The house has many visual effects but also sound effects that add to the aura for those who can hear. Kelly said he hopes people who can hear come on out to enjoy the event.

Guests can expect the typical darkness and spooky creatures roaming inside the house trying to scare them including some characters and scenes from favorite horror movies. One vampire resident takes three hours to apply his make-up. Some special effects add to the atmosphere including a large television monitor and a spooky mirror.

Kelly said his organization supports other charitable efforts in the city, especial when related to the fire department. He hopes the public will come out to support the organization’s effort as well.

The haunted house opened Friday and Saturday and will continue to run from 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Oct. 19 and 20 and 26 and 27. Admission is $8 for people 13 years old and older and $5 for anyone 12 years old or younger. Anyone younger than 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

Casey Kelly, chairman of the Southern Lakes Association of the Deaf’s haunted house, shows off the butcher’s shop.


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