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The Pioneer

Albany haunt could miss Halloween

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

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Sam DuBois’ Halloween enthusiasm started three years ago when he created a witch’s cauldron out of an old mechanical reindeer Christmas decoration. Now, the Albany High School sophomore creates a full scale haunted house equipped with mechanics, actors dressed in horrifying costumes and demonic scenes similar to those from a “Friday the 13th” movie.

For years, DuBois has frightened his neighborhood during Halloween. However, some neighbors are trying to put an end to his “Albany Haunt,” claiming his haunted house has become too big, too loud and a nuisance to the neighborhood.

Albany Haunt is a 700-plus square-foot haunted attraction on his mother’s property. The creation features sets, props, masks, live actors and mechanical figures that move and make noise. This year’s theme is “Bad Dreams” and DuBois said children and clowns would be big parts of the attraction.

“I did everything the first year,” DuBois said. “The last couple years I’ve had a lot of help. I taught myself how to do most of this stuff and now I teach other people too.”

Haunted house construction has come to a halt this year, but DuBois was prepared for it. Last year Dubois’ neighbor, Gary Kratkin, called the Albany Police Department and reported the attraction in hopes of getting it shut down. However, according to the APD it is legal and the haunted house was able to continue.

Dubois was prepared for a fight this year and tried to protect his creation through several legal endeavors. In July, before DuBois began construction on the 2015 version of the haunt, he got approval for his project from the Albany fire marshal Lance Calkins. However, after the approval, Albany city planner Anne Hersch sent DuBois a letter that stated he needed to obtain a temporary permit in order to run his haunted house.

“We finally got the go ahead and we paid almost $700,” DuBois said. “I would have liked that money to go to the charity not the government, but that’s how it goes.”

The Alameda County Food Bank receives the remainder of the money and donations earned by the haunt after expenses, most of which goes toward materials, DuBois said. There is a $2 suggested donation and canned goods are also accepted.

“He really blew me away with the donations,” Holly DuBois, his mother said. “His drive and commitment to this have made me really proud. How could I not support him?”

Kratkin said that construction on the attraction goes on for nearly six months before the event opens. DuBois said that he usually starts working in September, but this year he started in August to prepare for inspections required by the fire marshal. Kratkin also said thatthe loud noises and images scare his five-year-old son.

After DuBois received final approval for the project there was a 14-day period where appeals could be filed. On the final day, Kratkin filed an appeal with the city, and forced DuBois to stop all production of the attraction. The next planning meeting for the city is scheduled for Oct. 28 and until then DuBois’ haunt is on hold.

If he gets approval at the meeting, DuBois will have to scramble to get the attraction up and running. However, the appeal could also be carried over or accepted, which would effectively end the haunt for this year.

An online petition was created by DuBois which he will present to the planning and zoning commission at the meeting on Oct. 28. So far the petition has received 986 signatures. DuBois has urged supporters to sign it, send an email to city planner Hersch and is planning to come to the hearing at city hall at 7 p.m.

Sam’s mother Holly said she is proud of her son and the way he has not only inspired the community but also taught himself and several other kids valuable trades like construction, engineering and carpentry. DuBois has also begun to produce wearable masks for this year’s festivities.

California State University East Bay
Albany haunt could miss Halloween