The McHenry Area Jaycees are raising money to open their annual haunted house in a new location.
The group was forced to cancel the long-running event last Halloween season because the city-owned barn didn’t have a sprinkler system in place, which is required under state law.
The annual fundraiser raises money to help support the next year’s haunted house, which is why the group has found itself in a tricky situation, said Mary Kozel, internal vice president of the Jaycees.
“Due to not having the haunt last year, we don’t have the funds upfront they would like to pay for rent,” she said. “We could either pay the rent, do a small budget for the haunt and completely bankrupt the chapter, or hopefully get some help from McHenry [residents] to help us bring it back.”
The group has started a GoFundMe page and is accepting donations. The goal is to raise at least $5,000 by August, Kozel said.
The Jaycees also offer a sponsorship opportunity for local businesses that would like to advertise at the haunt. About 4,000 people visit the haunted house annually, Kozel said.
Tiers from $100 to $2,000 are available, and information about how to get involved can be found on the Jaycees’ website.
The group had been holding the annual haunted house for 31 years.
The Jaycees had been operating out of McHenry’s Knox Park barn and paid the city $10,000 annually for its use.
In 2012, state fire regulations tightened and the city worked with the Jaycees to help the building reach compliance, but in the end, it was not financially viable to install a $30,000 sprinkler system that was required.
The Jaycees will be selling buttons in support of the haunted house at its annual Jaycees Days from 4 to 11 p.m. July 7 in McHenry’s Petersen Park, 4300 Peterson Park Road.
Kozel said the haunted house’s new location is expected to be in McHenry, but the group doesn’t plan to announce the exact details until more funds have been gathered.
The scope of the event should be similar to its usual haunt and could run from the end of September to the beginning of November if all goes according to plan, Kozel said.
“We are very excited to bring it back,” she said. “We know how much of a pain it was for us and [how] heartbreaking [it was] to not open last year.”