Massacre on HammondDan and Alyssa Kittelson will spend their 10th wedding anniversary making people scream.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Dan and Alyssa Kittelson will spend their 10th wedding anniversary making people scream. The Massacre on Hammond begins at their home in Superior tonight. Visitors to the big white house can expect blood to flow, screams to echo and more than a few surprises. Whether you’re a regular guest to the Halloween horrors at 1701 Hammond Ave., or a newcomer, the Kittelson family promises free thrills and chills.
For years, Dan has been honing his haunting chops.
“I love Halloween,” he said. “Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.” When he got too old to trick-or-treat, the Duluth native began decorating his parents’ yard and porch with his brother, David. They rigged ghosts to float down from the attic on fishing line, popped out of a bench and sat still as a statue while children came onto the porch for candy, then sprang up.
“I was punched a couple of times when I did that,” Dan said, but the response just encouraged him to do more.
Alyssa married into the Halloween-loving family 10 years ago, bringing with her a crafty knack for displays. When the couple moved to the Superior house in 2006, they began by decorating the yard. The eerie show got such a good response that Dan amped it up and settled into the front porch. But his spook show got banished to the garage after an unfortunate blood spill on the white carpet.
“The Massacre on Hammond” opened in the two-car garage in 2008. It’s grown every year. The plastic sheeting walls have given way to plywood, complete with secret passages This year, visitors can expect a trail of terror, five rooms and myriad hallways filled with scary treats. When fully staffed, the Massacre on Hammond enlists the help of 15 actors — friends and family with a knack for the creepy.
“They know how to scare,” David said.
Alyssa plans the maze every year and is the chief make-up artist. The crew includes their children, Kyle, 9, and Connor, 6. The set includes two fog machines, two sound systems, strobe lights and black lights.
“We’re even using our dog as a prop this year,” Alyssa said.
Kyle, who has played a caged zombie and a creepy doll, said the best part is “scaring people.” Many of his teachers and fellow students from Northern Lights Elementary School drop by the house for the tour. The 9-year-old scares them silly, Alyssa said, then waves a cheerful “Hi.”
Past scenarios have included rooms that seem to have no exit, doors that open on their own, moving hallways and an incredibly realistic limb-sawing scene.
An estimated 600 people enjoyed the family’s fear factor last year, which expanded in 2010 to three nights of horror. The massacre runs 7-10 p.m. tonight, which is the Kittelson’s anniversary, as well as Saturday and Wednesday.
To offer the free holiday event, the family starts work in August. Thursday, they finished painting walls, splattering blood, carving a mausoleum and shoring up a wobbly bridge. What is their reward?
“It’s the scare,” Dan said, and the stories.
While actors can tone down their scares for younger visitors, the scenes are still quite gory. Children under age 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
The free event is not for people with heart conditions or prone to photosensitive seizures, as strobe lights are used. And visitors may be asked to crawl or climb to get out of some scary situations.
In addition, visitors are videotaped as they travel through the attraction for future training purposes. While the event is free, donations are accepted.
According to the law enforcement, there is no special curfew for families out trick-or-treating this Halloween. Normal curfew hours, however, remain in place. Curfew runs from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. for children age 16 and younger, 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. for 17-year-olds.