Have a laughing good time screaming at the Halls of Terror

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Nate and Nick Gilberts have been involved with the Halls of Terror for over a dozen years. Along with help their family, friends and the Prairie du Chien fire and police departments, they will offer the haunted house once again, beginning this weekend. (Courier Press file photo)

By Correne Martin

Have you ever wondered how haunted house designers keep their events fresh and scream-worthy? 

Well, aside from naturally having a twisted mind, they take the time to visit professional haunted houses far and wide to slice and dice into the creative horror that tortures their thrill seekers.

Nate and Nick Gilberts have spent weeks changing up the maze, as people call their Halls of Terror in Prairie du Chien, including a couple of research trips to other freakish events. 

“We have incorporated quite a few of them into this year’s Halls of Terror, with our own twist,” Nate said.

This is Nate’s 13th year being involved with the local haunt and Nick’s 12th, though they agree it doesn’t seem like that long ago they began scaring. This is their sixth year now at the cedar building on St. Feriole Island. 

“If anyone likes Halloween or adventure, they will enjoy coming to Halls of Terror. There’s just something about being a little afraid and then facing those fears, knowing you are going to come out without worries,” Nate said, encouraging citizens to attend. 

This year’s dates are Oct. 12-13, 19-20, 26-27 and 31. Hours are 7 to 10:30 p.m. each night, except for Halloween night, which will be 6 to 9 p.m. A lights-on, kid-friendly haunt will also be available Oct. 27, from 2 to 4 p.m.

“Haunted houses are fun. People come knowing they are going to jump at a noise or possibly scream when something scares them,” Nate continued. “If you have friends you know scare easy, bring them down with your group and watch their reaction. We see quite a few groups laughing at someone in their own group when they scream.”

The most important thing to remember at the Halls of Terror is that organizers and volunteers are there to have fun, “though we do get a kick out of the screamers,” he added.

There is no official storyline to the Halls of Terror this year, but there is somewhat of an outdoor theme in the first part, as you enter the building. From there, visitors will enter another “shed,” where the frights jump to another level. 

“The popular theme, that we found out by visiting other attractions, is that the ‘classic’ haunted house is back in. You may be in a bedroom and then, all of a sudden, end up in a torture chamber,” Nate said.

Guests around the halls can expect typical screams sirens, air blasts and a few surprise sounds as well. There’s a good amount of new props, scents and room experiences this year that the Gilberts brothers and crew haven’t done before. 

Once again this year, the Prairie du Chien Fire Department and Police Department are chipping in to run the haunted house. Nate and Nick also have friends and family who volunteer each year. 

“Proceeds go toward the two departments and we also donate to other organizations where we see a good fit for us,” Nate stated.

Those involved really look forward to providing the Halls of Terror attraction year after year. They put a lot of hours in and spend plenty of time away from their families, all for the reward of seeing community members have fun. 

“To us, this is a hobby. We work year-round coming up with ideas and trying things out,” Nate said. “We are always looking for more people to help out too.”

With all the rains occurring across the region, the organizers ask haunted house-goers to be respectful of St. Feriole Island, especially if it’s wet, when parking. 

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