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Madness Manor on Woodstock's Haunted Square scares up frightful fun

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 2:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 2:41 p.m. CDT
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(Sarah Nader- snader@shawmedia.com)
As part of a fundraiser to benefit Family Alliance and help restore the historic Woodstock Courthouse, an interactive haunted house called Madness Manor is being set up in the Woodstock Square. It is haunted by the cursed Maddigan family and opens Sept. 27.

The cursed Maddigan family has moved into the Woodstock Square, and they dare you to visit.

Beginning Sept. 27, the family will haunt Madness Manor, an interactive house of twisting hallways and strange rooms at 112 E. Van Buren St., built as part of an inaugural Haunted Square. 

“It’s a secret what we have going on in the inside,” Heather Clark said of the new haunted house she calls “kind of my baby.”

She pointed out the house is geared toward those ages 14 and older. So prepare to be scared.

Clark, a development associate and volunteer coordinator with Family Alliance, came up with the idea for the house as a fundraiser for her agency and to help the city of Woodstock raise money for renovations to the Old Courthouse on the Square.

The idea is for the event to grow annually and make the Square a Halloween destination. 

Along with Madness Manor, designed as a 7,000-square-foot Victorian-style home from the 1800s, the Haunted Square will include a Kid’s Day Ghostbuster Adventure Oct. 5 and a Zombie Pub Crawl Oct. 26.

Family Alliance, an adult care center that provides services and programs to those experiencing mental, physical, emotional or social challenges, originally sought to transform the upper two floors of the Old Courthouse into a haunted house as a fundraiser.

But because of the renovations, a lack of smoke detectors and other safety factors, the Old Courthouse wouldn’t work, said Kim Larson, executive director of Family Alliance.

So volunteers spent the summer designing and constructing Madness Manor and have been installing it over the past week. Of about 70 volunteers involved in the project, many of them will serve as actors when the haunted house opens. It remains open through Nov. 2.

With businesses on the Square also involved and helping to promote it, the event has become all that its organizers envisioned. And they’re optimistic it will raise needed funds.

“Being a nonprofit, we frequently are asking retailers in the downtown area for donations for our fundraisers,” Larson said. “We know they’ve been really hit hard by the economy.”

“We’re really hoping it becomes a community-type thing. We’re raising awareness of Family Alliance, but we’re also raising funds to restore the courthouse,” she said. “And we feel like we’re trying to help the retail division, and the rest of the community.”

To reach the event’s target audience, organizers challenged area high schools to sell tickets. The school that sells the most tickets will get a behind-the-scenes tour of Madness Manor. 

Tickets cost $12 a person at the house, but Haunted Hall Pass discount coupons (good for $2 off admission) can be found at various retailers or restaurants on the Square. 

Those who attend will learn the history behind why the eery Madness Manor has been moved from Bull Valley to the Square, Clark said, and all about the Maddigan family. 

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THE HAUNTED SQUARE WITH MADNESS MANOR HAUNTED HOUSE

WHEN: Sept. 27 through Nov. 2. Hours: 7 p.m. to midnight Sept. 27-28; Oct. 4-5, Oct. 11-12, Oct. 18-19, Oct. 25-26, Oct. 31; 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 17, 24 and 27;  and 7 to 11 p.m. Nov. 1-2; Kids’ Day Ghostbuster Adventure: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 5 for ages 4 to 13; Madness Manor: Blackout (for ages 18 and older) 7 p.m. to midnight Oct. 18; Zombie Pub Crawl: 7 to 1 a.m. Oct. 26. WHERE: Woodstock Square, 112 E. Van Buren St., WoodstockCOST & INFO: For ages 14 and older. Admission is $12 a person. Haunted Hall Pass discount coupons (good for $2 off admission) can be found at various retailers or restaurants on the Square. Information: www.thehauntedsquare.com or www.facebook.com/thehauntedsquare.

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