Chloe Sova, 9, lives next to an old lumber mill in Middle Grove. And every Halloween, her parents pull out all the stops to transform that lumber mill into a spooky haunted house.
“It’s very scary. We do it every Halloween,” said Chloe Sova. “It takes a lot of work and I’m out there every time my dad is.”
The haunted house started years before she was born as a fun tradition for family and friends. After Chloe survived a near-fatal heart condition, though, her parents saw a chance to give back to the institution and doctors that saved her life.
“We started using it as a fundraiser. All the proceeds go to Albany Med,” said Kim Sova, Chloe’s mother. “Chloe will always know that everything she achieves in her life will be due to Dr. Devejian, her surgeon, and all the other doctors and nurses at Albany Med.”
Sova said the $5 admission price is a steal.
“It’s out of control, so professional. I’m so impressed every year,” said Sova.
Eleven months of the year, the old lumber mill is used as storage space. But starting in September, Sova’s husband and a friend begin the process of emptying it out and creating the framework for the haunted house.
“They build all these different hallways. …a handful of little rooms and each room has a theme,” said Sova.
The entire house has a different theme, too. This year, a real estate agent is trying to sell the house, even though it’s haunted.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s the best one they’ve been in,” said Sova. “The people that have been coming over and over, they are our regulars, they get psyched because they know it’s a whole different thing [each year].”
There’s a “pitch dark maze” at the center of the house, rooms with obvious exits, a secret door hidden by a bookshelf and about 13 friends who serve as “scarers.”
“It’s really artistic and very scary,” said Sova.
Since she’s the reason for the haunted house turned charity, Chloe helps as much as she can.
“I help staple wood to the floor of the barn and the ceiling of the barn and put up smoke machines and hang up things and zombies and stuff,” said Chloe. “It’s fun to do because when I get home from the bus sometimes my dad is already out there working on it so I just bring my stuff in and go help.”
Her sisters, Haley, 10, and Marie, 8, also help out each night.
And though she’s not actually in the haunted house, just ushering tour groups back and forth, Chloe has a frightening costume of her own planned for trick or treating.
“I’m going to be a dead princess. … Last year I was a princess but not dead and this year I wanted to be scary,” said Chloe. “I have a big red dress and I’m going to have a pretty bracelet that’s red. My face will be painted white and [I’ll] put black scars on my face.”
The event has grown each year and in about five Halloweens has raised nearly $2,300.
This year, local businesses got involved and donated coffee, donuts, candy and cider for people to enjoy while they wait for a turn through the house. There will also be a bucket raffle with donated gift certificates and gifts and old fashioned horror movies will be projected in a tent.
Chloe said she likes using a fun holiday event to give back.
“I think that it’s good for the people that need the money that we get,” said Chloe. “They saved me so I want to save some more people.”
Kim Sova said she’s worked hard to instill the value of saying “thank you” and paying it forward in all three of her daughters.
“That’s the most important thing we wanted to instill in them, infinite gratitude,” she said.
People can brave the haunted house on Oct. 28 and 29 from 6 to 10 p.m. at 199 Young Road in Middle Grove.