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Fox to host his last haunted house

For Hastings High School senior Josh Fox, setting up the perfect scare is a calling. He's been doing it at his home since fifth grade, setting up haunted house tours in his parents' garage and around the home.

Fox's first haunted house was a small affair, set up in the garage when he was in fifth grade. He didn't host the event the very next year, but with that one exception, his haunted house has been growing every year since.

Four years ago, Fox got the idea from his youth planning council to turn his haunted house into a charity event to collect cash and food donations for Hastings Family Service. He saw a way he could help, Fox explained, and since he was already doing the haunted house, adding donations was just a way to make the whole event bigger. And, as it says on the fliers around town, "because hunger is truly scary."

Last year, Fox collected a couple hundred pounds of food from about 400 people, he estimated. That was just a free-will donation. This year, in an attempt to help more, Fox is planning on handing out tickets at the entrance. There's no set price, but he's hoping that people will be willing to donate a dollar or two or a food item to get in. Along with that, he's hoping to send a lot more people through the haunted house - as many as 1,000 or 1,500, said Fox's father, John.

To bring back those who have attended in previous years, Fox is going all-out for this year's Oct. 29 event.

"We try to change everything around, but this year is totally different," Fox said.

The tour will wind through twice as many tunnels as last year, which he's constructing around the back yard to guide Halloween revelers through one gory scene after another.

There's a jail scene with an electric chair, a graveyard, smoke rooms, a butcher scene and mad barber.

There are new scenes, including a carpet-covered hallway that's just a little too narrow and a kitchen scene and a bathroom murder scene.

"We're going to have, hopefully, a working bathroom that will shower blood," Fox said.

More than 40 volunteer actors will staff the haunted house, popping out of nooks and holes to spook anyone who passes by.

It's most definitely not an event for the very young. Fox is recommending that children under the age of 10 be accompanied by their parents.

Even the quantity of materials Fox has collected is astounding. About five dump-truck loads of building materials and props are going into this event. Fox gets it all from building surplus stores, where he can find items cheaply that might be cracked or broken.

"I don't need it to look nice," he said. "In fact, I don't want it to look nice."

Also new this year are a few activities to keep people socializing after they get a good scaring. Games2U will offer human hamster ball runs for $2, with all proceeds also going to Hastings Family Service.

An event this big takes time to orchestrate. Work began weeks ago.

"It pretty much takes over the house for a couple months," Fox said.

The main reason Fox is working to outdo himself is because this will be his last haunted house. Since he'll be heading off to college next fall, he won't have the time to put it together.

The haunted house opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at the Fox home, 1025 Zweber Lane. For more information, look for the Hastings Halloween Haunted House event page on Facebook.