By Courtney Widli
What started as a small-town fundraiser in 1980 has turned into a community Halloween tradition, as the Pittsford Fire Department once again prepares to host their annual Haunted House. With spooky surprises and scares around every corner, the family-friendly, must-see Halloween activity offers shrills, thrills and laughs for guests of all ages.
“We’ve been going strong for 37 years,” said Pittsford Fire Chief Tom Hooker, who helped create and launch the department’s inaugural haunted house event. “It has become a fun, family evening.”
Located on Plains Road in Pittsford, the annual attraction includes tractor-pulled hayrides, live entertainment, and haunted tours on a nightly basis. The rain-or-shine venue allows guests to get in their frights regardless of Vermont’s unpredictable fall weather, with food and warm drinks also available on site.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted and taken up to the house via a haunted hayride through the backwoods of Pittsford. Guided tours of 6-8 guests are taken through the aged house’s main floor and basement featuring Halloween-themed lights, sounds and live action at every turn.
“Each year is never the same,” said Hooker, adding that the event takes two months of preparation and work to execute. “We always add new attractions, and this year we changed the room layouts, along with a few other surprises.”
This year’s Pittsford Fire Department Haunted House will run nightly October 20-21 and October 27-28 from 6-9 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.
Serving as the local fire department’s only yearly fundraiser, to-date Chief Hooker stated the department has raised nearly one million dollars in revenue from the event. The proceeds have allowed the department to fund necessary firehouse repairs and additions, as well as purchase new fire trucks over the years.
“All the money goes right back into the department,” explained Hooker. “It’s really a community event and we appreciate all the support. We hope everyone comes out and has a fun night.”
Those looking for even more local thrills and chills to get them in the Halloween spirit, can also visit the annual Benson Haunted Hayride, taking guests on a 45-minute spook-themed hay wagon ride through the woods of Benson, as well as a variety of haunted attractions, and tours at Deadnberry Manor at Wilson Castle in Proctor, running throughout the month of October.