Along with collecting candy, pop-up haunted houses are an age-old Halloween tradition. Here on the coast, on the week before Halloween, there are several spooky tours available for the brave.
For Moss Beach’s Rob Tjader, the holiday is an opportunity to construct a chilling attraction. On his outdoor deck, Tjader and his family assemble a three- to five-minute tour, built for two people at a time, with elaborate Halloween-themed decorations. The haunt is complete with fog machines, low-level lighting and creepy characters.
Tjader’s house will be open from 7:30 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25 and 26, at 601 Kelmore St. in Moss Beach. The tour will also be open on Halloween evening from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Tjader, 59, has maintained his small haunt, on and off, for 22 years. He keeps it free and accepts donations for his labor of love. It’s no small feat to set up; it often takes weeks of work and involves over 40 sheets of plywood.
“It’ll be memorable,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to create an experience, not some forgotten moment. There’s a lot of unique effort put in here.”
Tjader’s home haunt is far from the only option. Lemos Farm, just east of Half Moon Bay on Highway 92, has its own haunted house tour and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. It has non-scary option for kids.
The Montara Lighthouse is hosting a family-oriented Haunted Hostel from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. The suggested donation of $8 for adults and $4 for kids supports HI-USA, the hostel’s managing nonprofit. The enchanted bosk, an indoor walkway built by lighthouse manager Christopher Bauman, leans more toward fairy tales than classic horror.
“It’s about the magic of Halloween, not the horror,” said Janet Pratt, the hostel’s guest services manager. “We’re not here to scare the living daylights out of people. This is about having fun and enjoying time together.”
The event includes crafts, games, snacks and music, and pumpkins donated by John Muller, of Daylight Farms. Kids can enjoy costume and pie-eating contests, and a live performance from students of Michelle McDonald’s Gotta Dance school.
Pratt and her partner, Bauman, have enjoyed organizing this event for the past 17 years. Since 2003, they’ve worked to make the hostel a community space for young families.
“It’s the perfect event for school-age kids from kindergarten through fifth grade,” Pratt explained.