House of horrors

By Marlena Hartz : Freedom Newspapers

Eeriness oozes from the old building — even without all the props and hands that reach toward you from hidden nooks.

For Halloween, John Duval has turned the building at 1313 Waldhauser Ave. into a haunted house. He didn’t have to do much.

The two-story, gray building was once a cattle slaughterhouse. It sits abandoned, a few feet from criss-crossing railroad tracks, a strange smell clinging to it. Black birds stare mutely from nearby, knobby tree branches and wind sweeps through surrounding fields.

Rumors persist that cult members congregated there and someone hung themselves upstairs, Duval said.

“When I cleaned this place up, I was scared to death — the sounds, the smell, the birds,” Duval said.

Duval and a gang of 20 volunteers, mostly teenagers, run the haunted house. Through slits in a wall of plastic wrap, they reach toward passers-by. In ragged costumes, they trail them and howl.

So far, approximately 2,000 people have toured the haunted house, named Starky’s after the building’s owner, Duval said.

A Clovis native, Duval ran a haunted house in downtown Clovis almost 20 years ago. He decided to do so again to give young people in Clovis, and his own three daughters, the oldest 15, something to do.

“When I was growing up here, we didn’t have much to do — we dragged Main Street,” Duval said.

Duval said his daughters coaxed him through the creation of the haunted house.

“I didn’t want to make it too cheesy, as my daughter would say. And I didn’t want to make it too scary for young kids,” he said.

Clovis resident Rhonda Romero is a volunteer at Starky’s. She mans the entrance and occasionally reassures those who are too scared to enter the building, she said.

The haunted house “gives kids something to do,” she said.

“I think it’s awesome,” Romero said.

Admission to Starky’s Haunted House is $5 for adults and $3 for children under the age of 9. The house will be open 6-11 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday.

According to Duval, a portion of proceeds from the house will go to local youth sports teams.

Other Clovis Halloween events include:

Friday: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern New Mexico Halloween Bash, 6 -8 p.m., Clovis-Carver Public Library.

Saturday: Altrusa Club of Clovis, 15th Annual Pumpkin Patch Food Drive, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., North Plains Mall. Bring three cans of food or non-perishable food item and get a free pumpkin and coloring book.

Tuesday: North Plains Mall Trunk or Treat, 6-8 p.m., trick or treat from trunk to trunk at a new car show.