Greenville’s Haunted Firehouse opens doors for 10th season

Published 2:42 pm Friday, September 27, 2013

Firefighters with the Greenville Fire Department are swapping out their traditional gas masks for decidedly creepier wear for the 10th annual Haunted Firehouse beginning this weekend.

The haunted house will be open for a total of 13 nights between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. for six consecutive weekends.

Alongside the regular hours of operation, the department is including a couple of flashlight tours for children on Oct. 12 and Oct. 19 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.

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Unlike the traditional tour for teenagers and adults, the typically frightening experience is toned down considerably for younger audiences.

“We have no actors in the house and we let the kids bring a flashlight for a reduced admission of $2, and we allow parents to go through with them,” said Greenville Fire Department Capt. Les Liller. “So on those two days, we let the kids come through and see the animatronics, the lights and the sets without the fear aspect. We explain it to them so there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The department won’t be quite as considerate for older audiences.

In celebration of the 10-year anniversary, Liller said that the plan is to bring back several actors that have contributed to the haunted house throughout the years for a reunion of Addams Family proportions.

But the department plans to mix a little bit of old with the new as sweeping changes have once again been made to the haunted house’s interior.

“We try to change at least one third of the scenes, and this year we changed about half,” Liller said. “So we’ve got some exciting new rooms and some new characters, and I think it’s going to be a treat for everybody. We keep it fresh and we keep it new, and that’s what keeps people coming back.”

The cost of keeping the terrifying experience an original one has driven the cost of admission up slightly from $6 to $7, as a portion of funds generated from the house are used each year to make improvements.

More importantly, the money raised is donated to a number of local and national charity efforts, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the American Cancer Society and a recent team-up with Comfort Care Hospice.

“On a more one-to-one basis, we help a lot of families throughout our community with illnesses and sicknesses,” Liller added. “A lot of people have insurance to cover the medical portion, but what they don’t have is supplementary insurance to help pay for gasoline to and from treatments, lost time from work and meals on the road. If we know there’s a need, we donate to families even without them asking.”

Liller has been involved with the haunted house attraction since its inception and neither he, nor anyone else involved with the project, is paid to do it.

According to Liller, it’s a labor of love in the truest sense.

“Everybody has their hobbies. A lot of people hunt, fish or golf, but for most of us that work here, running this haunted attraction is our hobby,” Liller said.

A core group of roughly a dozen people put in thousands of man-hours working on the attraction year-round, attending conferences and classes around the country to perfect the haunted house experience for Butler County residents.

“We like to provide a show for people that some enjoy and others are terrified by — we’ll take both aspects,” Liller said. “When we’re able to turn this money around and put in back into the community and see some of the good that we’re able to do, then that’s very rewarding and fulfilling, and it makes what we do very much worthwhile.”