Many many years ago, in a little town called Buena Park, the areas first theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm, decided to do a Halloween event featuring a local radio talent. The event was so successful that it came back the next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.
As time passed, Knott’s Scary Farn gradually grew bigger. The radio host was replaced by another host, then by Elvira. Talent dressed up as monsters started to wander the streets of Ghost Town and other areas. They developed scare tactics, like sliding, that are used at many Halloween events across the country today.
Haunted houses, called mazes, began to pop up around the park too. They also featured monsters, who wore costumes, make up, and masks, designed to fit the theme of their maze.
And there were shows, so many shows. There was a witch hanging, magicians and bands. It was a great place to celebrate all things spooky, and people came from all around to get scared.
The little Halloween event wasn’t so little any more. It was now the grand daddy of them all.
When I first started working at Knott’s Berry Farm as a senior in High School, I hated Halloween Haunt. I was a wimp. I hated all things scary or spooky. And even though I knew this was all just pretend, that the monsters were just people under masks or layers of make up, I was terrified of them. So terrified that I actually bought a crucifix from the silver shop inside the park for protection. And I started reading my bible every night too.
In 2001 I left Knott’s so I could focus on college, but in 2002, I went back. I wasn’t afraid of Haunt anymore, or the monsters, but I started to hate it for different reasons. On Haunt nights the park became so crowded that you couldn’t move. The backstage cafeterias were so crowded that you couldn’t get your food and eat it before your lunch was over. And the majority of the monsters were snobby and crude. I wanted nothing to do with them, or the event. I just wanted it to be over so Knott’s could go back to normal.
The following year, things started to change.
That year, I worked as a photographer at the main gate. As people came in, I would pester them to take a picture that they could buy later in the evening. Our boss had the great idea to start using some of the monsters in the photos. There were a few who liked to scare people as they came in the park, so we would ask them to pose with guests and soon we had a devoted crew of talent working with us. Eventually I got to know them as we chatted between photos and scares. It turned out that monsters weren’t so bad after all. While some were still pretty snobby and crude, they were also really nice people who enjoyed doing this every October. There were some who even flew in from other states to work the event.
Maybe this Knott’s Scary Farm thing wasn’t so bad after all.
In 2004, I was sucked into the Haunt life even more when the monsters working the front gate with us that year welcomed us into their family. A couple of us photographers spent our breaks hanging out in their break room, chatting with them. We were invited out to eat with them after Knott’s closed for the night, and when the event rained out, we were invited over to their houses to watch movies, play poker, and just hang out.
After the cobwebs and masks were packed away for the year, I started to get excited for the next time October rolled around. I started talking about crossing over and becoming a monster the following year, and, with a little help from a guy I was dating at the time, I did exactly that in August of 2005.
I spent two years in a maze, followed by two years in a street zone. I had fun running around after people. I enjoyed scaring them and making them cower in fear. I also enjoyed just being silly and working as a distraction so that other monsters could get their scares.
I met some of my best friends while working Haunt. I met a man who would become like another dad to me. I earned the respect of a couple of legends who had been working for over twenty years. I found love. That’s right, I met the love of my life there while covered in make up and gore. I was a wench, he was a clown, and five years later we would say I do and become husband and wife.
Even though Haunt was the cause for a lot of good things in my life, it was also the cause of a lot of strife. If you get that many people together in such a small space for an extended period of time, there is bound to be drama. I caused some by trying to do the right thing. I was also the victim of some purely because another girl was jealous of me.
Knott’s Scary Farm was also taking a toll on my professional life. It’s not unusual for monsters to take time off from their day jobs in order to work Haunt every October. Hell, some even go so far as quitting their jobs. I was no different; I lost one job because I cared more about Haunt, and I never was able to reach my full potential at my next job because my priorities were still so screwed up.
The event itself was also changing. The crowds were getting rougher and rude. There were more incidents of talent being hurt. Bosses wanted the monsters to be more scary and less funny. It just wasn’t fun to work any more. At least for me, it wasn’t.
So after thinking about it for a long time, I decided it was time. After four years of being a monster, and over eight of working at Knott’s, I hung up my mask and called it quits.