Haunted houses the world over want you to believe you’ll shed blood, sweat and tears inside them.
Rarely, however, is it highlighted how much blood, sweat and tears go into building one.
Haunted Pembroke has been around for years, the product of owner Jonathan Piercy and his family’s hard work.
It began in 2012, ran until 2013 and opened again in 2016. This year is the first he’s charged, a $10 fee for adults (children are free).
“This is the third year that we’ve done this. The first two years were free,” Piercy said. We also did in 2012 and 2013, on a much smaller scale, you know, it was in my carport.”
Piercy is no stranger to small beginnings.
Aside from the years in his carport, the last two years the haunted house was created in the first floor of the family’s former two-story Victorian-style home.
He did it for no charge, he said, to get his name out there, and so people could see what his scares had to offer. To provide an incentive, he brought out live music and gave away deep-fried snacks.
It’s located in a much larger building now, and has a staff of about 25 volunteers, including Piercy’s children.
But success doesn’t mean this is the end of growth for Haunted Pembroke. Piercy said he’s just getting started.
“The sky’s the limit,” he said.
But to understand where Haunted Pembroke is going, you have to understand its beginnings.
“My parents did this on a smaller scale when I was a kid,” Piercy said. “They had like a display set up. Every small town has that one house that just overdoes it. My mom used to dress up as a witch, and you could hear her witch’s cackle across Pembroke.”
So a family tradition began, one Piercy has already begun to pass down to his children.
If it is a tradition, it’s not one that can be kept in October. That’s when the scares begin, but the work begins much sooner.
Piercy said he began constructing part of the attraction in March. Halloween, he said, is just about year-round in his home.
“I’ve gotten bigger and bigger every year. It’s just my passion,” he said. “All those bricks, all those dots in the maze, cut out single-handedly. When Halloween gets here, we are very happy that it’s here. Blood, sweat and tears, for sure.”
This year, the family teamed up with Nightmares End, a haunted house team whose building in Hopkinsville is undergoing renovations this year, Piercy is happy with the arrangement, but has his eye on a partnership lasting longer than one season.
“My goal is to find a permanent running mate.”
Whoever comes in, whatever displays change, and however he decides to keep putting the fright into visitors, the business model will stay the same.
Piercy sees his attraction as a value. Big-time haunted houses cost big money, too. Haunted Pembroke has scares to accommodate families on any kind of budget. For the price of one ticket at some places, he’s confident an entire family can come out and have a good time.
“I like to keep the ticket price low,” he said. “For normal people to go to mainstream haunted attractions ... it could be $250 for the entire family to go. I like to keep the ticket price low so everybody can do something. And you get your scares worth, trust me.”
Word is getting out and business is good, Piercy said, if never as quickly as he’d like.
“I’m not complaining about business. People are coming out,” he said. “If people could just be here to see what we have to offer, everybody would start coming. For the price we’re charging, for the scare and adrenaline you get when you come here ... we get down.”
The last night of fright is Halloween for Haunted Pembroke, at 1255 Howard Dickerson Road, Pembroke. Never fear, however, they’ll be back next year.
JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post. Reach him at email@example.com or 270-887-3239.