A Joint Service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Chillicothe haunted house prepares for scares

Spider Hill Haunted Attractions.jpg
Spider Hill Haunted Attractions
The Spider Hill Haunted Attractions are serving up scares every Friday and Saturday night in October.

October is just around the corner and haunted houses across the state are gearing up to deliver frights for the Halloween season.

Jennifer Measheaw is the house manager at Spider Hill Haunted Attractions, located at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe. She said work ramps up this time of year, but running a haunted house is a year-round commitment.

“We do a lot of our upgrades and changes during the off season,” she said. “We’ll run October, probably take off the next few months. Starting in January we’re right back at it.”

Jennifer Measheaw.jpg
Collin Schopp
Jennifer Measheaw is the house manager at Spider Hill, this is the 23rd year the haunt has been in operation.

Spider Hill Haunted Attractions consists of three separate activities: Massacre Mansion, a haunted trail and a “zombie invasion” hay rack ride. Typically, the “zombie invasion” includes firing paintballs at zombie actors from the safety of the hay rack, but this year the invasion has ended and it will be a less scary, family-friendly scenic ride past the defeated monsters.

“It was actually costing us more money to have it than not to have it,” said Measheaw. “In order for us to keep it, we would have to raise prices for our customers. So we thought, what’s going on in life right now, everyone’s raising prices for everything. So let’s not do that. Let’s take a break and kill off the zombies.”

Spider Hill Haunted Attractions is a nonprofit organization that requires a fully volunteer staff of around 100 people to keep the scares coming. Measheaw said the love of the season brings staff back year after year.

“The group that comes out, everyone like, just pitches in. It's like one big huge family reunion,” she said. “You know all different types of people are on that committee and are actors and we really just get together and have a good time. I think that is the big push on why we keep getting so many returning.”

Measheaw also credited the work and dedication of the crew for the crowds returning to be scared over and over again.

“The month prior, we do two to three actor clinics, from like two to four on Sundays, where we work directly on just the basics of how to scare people,” she said. “I can't give all of our secrets out. But some haunts will try to scare you one way, don't worry, we're gonna go the opposite way.”

The staff also works hard to keep the attractions from growing stagnant. Meacheaw said three rooms in Massacre Mansion are new this year, some new buildings have gone up on the haunted trail with new themes and some tombstones have been added along the trail side.

There also is a personal loss inspiring the staff’s dedication to this year’s haunt: Three Sisters Park General Manager Chris Cassidy passed away in March 2022.

“That’s been really hard on us,” said Measheaw. “With that, it’s just making us push harder to make sure that we make this year unbelievable for him.”

You can find more information, including a number for information and pricing, at Spider Hill’s Facebook page. The haunt runs through the month of October on Friday and Saturday nights.

We depend on your support to keep telling stories like this one. You – together with NPR donors across the country – create a more informed public. Fact by fact, story by story. Please take a moment to donate now and fund the local news our community needs. Your support truly makes a difference.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.