FROSTBURG, Md. — If the skeletons crawling all over the front of the house don’t give it away, the clown face with hypnotic, swirling eyes will.
Since shortly after last Halloween, Justyn McFarland and Wade Whenry have been hard at work transforming the outside of their Frostburg home into the Haunted Little House, a spooky, seasonal display that the couple designed and built by hand themselves. From 7-10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, as well as all three days of Halloween weekend, they will open up for guests who want a quick scare.
McFarland said the haunted house, across from B&B Country Meats on Upper Georges Creek Road, is both a labor of love and a gesture of goodwill toward the community that supported him when he needed it most.
While folks are more than welcome to come by the haunted house free of charge, McFarland said, he’s hoping to collect donations for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. That cause is near to McFarland’s heart as he has battled leukemia twice himself, and feels strongly about helping children who are facing an unthinkable illness.
“The community supported me when I was going through two years of hell,” McFarland said. “That’s why I wanted to do something to give back. That, and I’m an adult, and I went through that and I was scared crapless. Telling a little kid what they have, or trying to explain it to them, I can’t even fathom.”
McFarland and Whenry went with the theme “CarnEvil Nights” for this year’s display. Upon arrival, visitors walk around the side of the home, proceeding by an ominous ticket-taker and clown in a cannon with fog emanating from the barrel, and pass underneath the oversized, outstretched arms of a yellow-eyed ghoulish jester. While scary, McFarland said the haunted house was designed with kids in mind, so it isn’t overwhelming.
The two designed and built the exhibits, including wiring the lighted signs and constructing much of what’s on display. They erected a smaller display last year, McFarland and Whenry said, though the weather kept them from having it up for as long as this year’s.
McFarland said they began building their haunted carnival this summer to have it ready in time for the holiday. They’ve learned which parts of the display need to be tightly tied down due to Frostburg’s frequent windy weather, McFarland said, noting one of the skeletons had been beheaded by the gusts recently, but the skull was successfully reattached.
“It’s been a lot of trial and error,” McFarland said, adding that he and Whenry frequently pass through to make sure the many moving parts are in proper scaring order.
“If you go one night, it might be different the next night,” Whenry said.
About 100 visitors passed through the haunted halls last weekend and they’re hoping for an even bigger crowd this weekend.
It’s rewarding to see people pause for pictures in front of all their hard work, McFarland and Whenry said, but equally so to see the joy it’s brought to young and old intrepid souls thus far.
“Old, young, middle-aged, they’ve all loved it,” McFarland said.