By TOMIE V. PARKS
Editor for the Hutto News
Driving to the haunted house was eerie enough.
It stands on County Road 134 in the middle of a a secluded field almost half an hour away from the safety of downtown and its surrounding suburbs.
So I already felt like I was in a horror movie, waiting for my cell phone and car to die at the same time.
What came after I found Grandpa Bo's Bargains, the store that transformed into Hutto Scream House — well I suppose that depends on the kind of person you are.
For the adrenaline junkies, it's a pure high. For the the homebody like me who watches too much TV, you are zombie bait and spend the entire time wanting it to be over.
So Hutto Scream House is no joke. You get what you're looking for when it comes to Halloween entertainment.
It starts with a maze that takes you through a land of nightmares, and the path leads you outside to an open field where you find yourself stuck in a crowd people who want to eat you.
Very creepy, very unsettling and not a good way to unwind for the night.
But I survived and am here to tell you all about it.
The back story
The Hutto Scream House is the first of its kind.
Except for the one the high school orchestrates every October, the town didn't have a haunted house until it came along.
Jamie Church of Hutto put it together in 2013 as a way to raise money for her father, James Ackerman, who was paralyzed from the neck down after an accident.
"It was something I wanted to do to take care of my dad," she said. "The haunted house seemed like a good fit. Halloween is something I've always been passionate about, and when I went to set it all up, it grew larger than I imagined it could be."
Her 2013 fundraiser was such a success that she wanted to do it again this year — but this time the beneficiaries would be nearby charities.
Last Friday was opening night with proceeds going to Jasiel Favors of Round Rock, a Stoney Point football player who was paralyzed after a helmet-to-helmet accident on the field. About 50 people came, and even more came Saturday night when the beneficiary was the Texas Firewalkers, a non-profit group that seeks to aid those affected by fires and traumatic acts of nature.
This week the money goes to Hutto Food Pantry on Thursday, the Sandbox at Madeline's Place on Friday and Hutto Has Heart on Saturday.
"These groups do so much for the community all the time," Church said. "And after talking to them and learning about their goals and what they want to see happen in the community, I wanted to use the Scream House to help them."
The Williamson County Animal Shelter will be the beneficiary on closing night, Oct. 30.
"All of these are good groups," Church said. "And they are all right here."
People are welcome to visit the first portion of the Hutto Scream House for whatever donation they can afford.
"If you want to go through the second part, the suggested donation is $10," Church said. "We didn't want it to be so expensive nobody to go, but we also wanted to be able to raise some real money."
This week, though, she said to entice higher attendance numbers, those who attend in the first hour after sunset will get to experience the entire house for $5.
Hutto Scream House is at Grandpa Bo's Bargains, 1340 County Road 134. The store shut down for the month of October but is still open to customers by appointment.
As for whether it's fit for young children, Church said parents need to use their own judgment.
It's definitely not too scary for them to wait at the picnic tables outside the house. There are happy ghosts and pumpkins to look at.
"So just keep that in mind," Church said. "Parents know their kids best."
For more details, call 512-844-4551.