Homemade Haunted Utah County Attraction Celebrates Final Halloween
ELK RIDGE, Utah — The scares were a little bittersweet at a homemade haunted house in Utah County Thursday night, as its creators said this was the final Halloween the attraction would remain in operation.
“This is the last year and the last night,” said Kari Hiatt, seated next to her husband, Jim, who added it was the “final curtain call.”
The couple started Hiatt’s Haunted House a decade ago in their garage, and it quietly grew into a draw to people well outside the boundaries of their neighborhood.
“It’s fun to see them when they come out and they’re scared and they’re laughing,” Jim Hiatt said. “You’ve felt like you’ve done something to spice up their Halloween, so it’s a lot of fun for us.”
Kari Hiatt said it was her idea 10 years ago and she said her husband, fortunately, was good at building.
The haunted house has been quite an undertaking. The Hiatts said they began working on it this year on Sept. 19 and have spent countless hours since.
“We don’t have any kids in high school anymore and it gets harder to build it every year and come up with new ideas,” Kari Hiatt said.
This year, the family chose a mining theme.
“We try to, you know, play on everybody’s fears,” Kari Hiatt said. “If you’re claustrophobic, it gets you.”
Over the years, the couple has used the haunted house to raise donations for charitable causes, from neighbors dealing with cancer to students looking to take humanitarian trips.
This year, they said the money would go toward dental hygiene in Guatemala.
The Hiatts said it was “bittersweet” to bring their haunted house to an end.
“We’ve given back, but we’ve had a lot of fun doing it, and it’s been a family tradition that we love,” Kari Hiatt said.
They said they were going to “pass the baton on to somebody else.”
Their daughter, the couple said, had started her own haunted attraction for a good cause in Hawaii.
“Family traditions are really important, and if you can involve the community and do something good, give back — it’s all worth it,” Kari Hiatt said. “My kids will remember this stuff forever and hopefully the neighborhood will remember it, too.”
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