Something wicked is coming to The Lake at Heritage Pointe.
That’s where Calgary mom, Yvette Gallant, creates her annual haunted house.
The house is currently being readied by Gallant to frighten kids young and old this Halloween.
“I have always loved Halloween and have been building small Halloween scenes in my front yard or garage since my children were born,” Gallant said in a recent interview.
She said that she started the tradition in 1996 after she and her family moved to Calgary.
She met a neighbour, Josee Tanguay, who shared her affinity for the holiday. The two of them have been working together on the haunted houses since then.
All of the props used in the haunted house are made by Gallant and Tanguay from the things they’ve accumulated over the years, like masks and skulls.
They also accept donated props from friends and family like sheep skulls from a friend of Gallant’s daughter or the two hundred electric jack-o-lanterns made by one of her neighbours.
“We never buy stuff,” says Gallant.
Besides dressing up everything from signs to the TV set in the lake house as characters, the haunted house also has people walking around who are ready to scare anyone.
“This time, there will be lots of witches, werewolves and we’re trying to hit lots of witches from all the Disney movies.We already have Ursula the sea witch coming in for sure, and the Adams family is also joining us,” says Gallant.
“The witches and their friends are coming together on Halloween night, so there will be a lot of characters that night.”
Inside the lakehouse on the main floor, they’ve got a plan to have a creepy nursery set with a very literally “dolled up” person sitting in a crib.
Gallant’s children have been heavily involved in Halloween and the haunted houses. Her daughter Kirstie Gallant, 25, always plays a character and loves to terrify visitors.
“I’m not afraid to scare people and I’ll do whatever to scare them,” she says.
“In 2011, one of my school friends dressed up as the Joker a-la Heath Ledger with full make-up and I went as a sort of mistress of the house.”
“I didn’t talk at all, I had blood pouring out of everywhere on my face. I would stand behind people and just sort of nudge my way over. I was holding a doll head and I would just stand and look at them. Sometimes I would smile; sometimes they would smile back or run away screaming,” she says.
“ The same year, I followed a lady to her vehicle and she locked herself inside screaming at me,”says Gallant.
“I knew her too, but she had no idea who I was.The next day, she sent an email to the community saying thank you for the whole Halloween thing.”
This year, Kirstie Gallant is going to be in a giant cage in the lakehouse basement as a human bird.
Kirstie Gallant recalls not being allowed to dress up as anything that wasn’t spooky.
“One year, I was allowed to be a princess and I had to be a dead one. Since then, I never wanted to be a princess again .”
Over the years, the haunts have rotated locations quite a bit. The event was held for six years in Riverbend, nine years at the Gallant’s Heritage Pointe home and at the lakehouse in the past two years.
“In 1997 and 1998, we were actually on TV. The “A” Channel back then did the news out of our yard each night for the week before Halloween.”
At that time, they attracted more than 1,500 guests, so they decided to bring charity into the mix.
“Bring a little something for the food bank and you can visit the haunted house,” says Yvette Gallant.
This year, they’ll also be accepting cash donations towards Alberta Flood Relief.
Since the lakehouse is outside of the city limits and not accessible by transit, the numbers have decreased significantly to only 500 visitors to the haunted house.
Next year, they will be relocating the event to a friend’s house in Douglas Glen.
The haunted house runs on Halloween night only from 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
The first hour is without living characters, normally reserved for the little kids but 6 p.m. onward is all-out scary.
” I often see kids go back after the first hour is up because they want to be scared,” says Gallant.
“If it’s not scary, the kids aren’t going to come.”
The lakehouse is located at 4 Heritage Lake Boulevard, RR#3 DeWinton, Alberta.