The trials and tribulations of organizing a haunted house during COVID

How one family is getting spooky for Halloween while staying safe

For the past 10 years, the Greco family has transformed their home into a haunted house, and this year is no different. Courtesy Catherine Angelillo

For some, Halloween is just another day in the year, but for others, its festivities consume the whole month of October.

For Daphné Greco and her family, October 31 is a day they look forward to every single year, and with good reason. The family hosts a haunted house that is now infamous in their neighborhood in Rivière-des-Prairies. The installation is made from various electronic props, smoke machines, curtains upon curtains that form the different sections of the haunted house, and an abundance of classic Halloween decorations.

“We’ve been doing it for, I think, almost ten years now,” mentioned Greco when asked about the origin of the haunted house. 

“When we first started decorating it was just the front of the house and then every year we would kind of expand a little bit more and a little bit more, until finally it just went around the whole backyard,” she added.

Every Halloween, the Greco family has friends help them by being a part of their haunted house cast—one of their most popular attractions being the floating vampire. One of their family friends dresses up as a vampire and, tied to a tree with a harness, scares people from above. 

Traditional Halloween decorations fill their backyard. Courtesy Catherine Angelillo

Stunts like this are possible because of the huge amount of trees they have in their backyard. This particular section of the haunted house is always a success, said Greco, because it is one of the attractions people talk about most after having gone through the maze of curtains.   

“We love doing it,” she said. “[My mom and I] usually stay in front and we play music. We have a whole playlist of those iconic Halloween songs. Everyone in the neighbourhood can just hear and come see what’s going on.” 

Building an entire haunted house from scratch might sound daunting, but the Greco's make it look easy.

The haunted house, which her father builds almost entirely on his own each year, takes around two to three days to complete, a period of work that is spread out throughout the month of October. Most props, like the electronic ones, are set up the day of the event.  

Of course, the temperature is also a factor the family must be weary of each year in order to ensure the success of their haunted house. 

While the event usually only takes place on Halloween, Greco explained how, last year, they set up for two days instead of one because of the pouring rain.

“Even though a lot of stuff wasn’t set up, there were still some people that were like ‘Oh, but can we go through anyways?’” she said.

For obvious reasons, the Greco’s will have more than the weather to prepare for this year. With the pandemic placing limitations and regulations on Halloween festivities, they’ve had to overcome the difficulty of organizing an event that follows public health regulations.

To follow public safety regulations, they’ve had to alter their usual set-up. Courtesy Catherine Angelillo

“We were really worried at first that we wouldn’t be able to do it, because obviously for safety reasons no one knew how this year would turn out in October,” she said. “We were having a lot of conversations about how to kind of go about it given the circumstances.”

“We are still doing it around the house this year but [...] we’re going to put a table in front of the house with bottles to disinfect people’s hands. Even though people won’t really be touching anything, it’s more the premise of them being sanitary and us being sanitary,” Greco continued.

Her entire family will be wearing masks and hopes their visitors will do the same.

To further ensure the safety of their guests, the family decided to limit the visiting space to one family or pair at a time, instead of people going in and out of the haunted house whenever they like. In a way, this will make the experience even more thrilling, as people will have access to the whole place for themselves, said Greco. 

Although the event will be a bit different this year, the end goal is the same as any other year: for people to have fun and enjoy themselves.