With Halloween just around the corner, the community of Exeter Township is in for a terrifying treat as the Witman family once again opens the doors to their home-built haunted house at 100 E 37th Street. The fourth annual creation, led by father Jeffery Witman and his son Justin Witman, has become a beloved local attraction, featuring a maze of frights that has grown bigger and scarier with each passing year.
The journey into terror begins with a concept that Jeffery had four years ago when he envisioned creating a haunted house like no other. To bring his spine-tingling dream to life, he enlisted the help of his son, Justin, and their collaboration has turned into a labor of love. This year marks their fourth haunting season, with Justin taking on more of the creative reins.
“The first year it took us about four weeks to build it all for the first time because we didn’t know what we were doing. Then the second year took us about three weeks and this year it took us about two weeks. Over the years we shortened it down because we know what we’re doing now, how the pipes go together, planning the maze layout in advance,” Jeffery Witman explained.
The haunted house is constructed with an intricate framework of PVC pipes and connectors, which are assembled into a layout that evolves each year. Justin employs plastic sheeting to hold the pipes together and create a maze-like structure that challenges visitors to find their way through the labyrinth of fear. The construction process is a time-consuming labor of dedication, requiring approximately 60 hours of work between family members and friends.
“We build everything out of PVC pipe and connectors, so it’s a lot of lay it out, find out what works. I change it up every year so it’s different. I put plastic sheeting up, and the way I do that actually holds the pipe together from coming apart. It’s a little time-consuming and then after that I have to decorate it all,” Justin Whitman explained.
The Witmans’ expertise has grown significantly over the years, reducing the build time from four weeks in the first year to two weeks for the current fright-filled spectacle. Their haunted creation now engulfs their entire backyard and extends 120 yards for brave souls who dare to enter.
“I’d say the maze length started out at 60 yards and we’ve gone an additional 20 yards inside every year since, so this year it’s about 120 yards to walk,” Jeffery Witman noted.
This year, the father-son duo has elevated their haunted house experience with additional animatronics, volunteer actors, jump scares, and fog machines. The scare factor is taken to the next level with the inclusion of a clown room filled with animatronic clowns, actors, and chilling displays, creating an atmosphere where reality blurs with fiction.
In their pursuit to make the haunted house an integral part of the community, they’ve invited Justin’s brother-in-law, who owns an entertainment business, to set up karaoke and play music, making the atmosphere even more inviting for visitors of all ages.
“One of the unique aspects of this haunted attraction is that it’s entirely free to enter. If someone wanted to give a donation I do accept it. As a member of the Exeter Township Fire Advisory Committee, I would just donate it back to the fire department. I love to stand out here and listen to the screams and seeing them run away,” Jeffery Witman shared.
For those who might be inspired to embark on a similar venture, Justin offers valuable advice, urging potential builders to consider their budget, time frame, and available skills. Most importantly, he encourages aspiring haunt creators to take the plunge and enjoy the process, whether it goes off without a hitch or not. Jeffery recommends starting small and gradually expanding, adding new animatronics each year to keep things fresh and exciting.
As Halloween approaches, the Witmans’ home-built haunted house is poised to become a cherished tradition in Exeter Township, offering chills and thrills to all who dare to enter. With their dedication, creativity, and unwavering love for the holiday, this father and son duo have transformed their home into a spine-tingling spectacle that promises to make this Halloween a memorable one for the entire community.