When it comes to Halloween decorating, placing a few pumpkins around the house just doesn’t compare to building a backyard zombie apocalypse for Cameron Dunlop.
“This wooden door rumbles and shakes when I press a button here on this remote control,” Dunlop said. “Out of all the parts in the maze, that is definitely my favourite.”
This is the fifth consecutive year he has built Halloween haunts. Last year, he featured a cornstalk theme complete with scarecrow and a body hanging from a gallows. The theme this time is a rundown warehouse, with wooden skids donated from a local supermarket for walls.
Maureen Ballentine, Dunlop’s mother, remembers the first year her son began building contraptions for Halloween.
“Obviously five years ago it started very small,” she said. “He was young and couldn’t use any of the power tools so I helped him a lot.”
Dunlop opened a hidden door revealing a cramped control room containing a board with switches and blinking lights.
“That’s actually meant for DJ lighting to turn things on and off,” he said.
Pneumatics power various parts of the maze, including a swiveling spotlight, and flickering lights complete the abandoned building feel. But Dunlop says it’s not all that elaborate.
“I look at this and I think of all the improvements I could do to it. Compared to my first year, I’m quite impressed with what I’ve done and what my friends and I have gotten through and built,” he said.
As the yearly backyard attractions become more and more elaborate, attendance has grown.
“Last year we had about 425 people. This year I want way more, at least 1,000,” Dunlop said.
Noting the number of people who came last year, Dunlop and his mother are collecting donations for Habitat for Humanity.
“That’s primarily because we get most of our stuff there,” she said, gesturing to the makeshift hut built from junk. “It’s a great resource for Cameron.”
Dunlop wants to scare people on Halloween night, but it’s all in good fun.
“I just want a constant flow of people all night and a lot of screams,” he said.
The attraction on 54 Virginia Ave. was open this past Saturday night and reopens tonight, Oct. 31, for Halloween from 6 until 10 p.m.