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Frights and fun at Sheriff’s Station

Event: Haunted Jailhouse attracts youth for 22nd year

Posted: October 31, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 31, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Mario Hidalgo, left, and Robin Jack dance during a costume contest outside the Halloween Haunted Jailhouse at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in Valencia on Sunday.

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It’s scary how a simple attraction like the “haunted” rendering of the local jail could remain a hugely popular Santa Clarita Valley tradition after more than two decades.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Deputy Jeffrey Jackson, organizer of this year’s 22nd annual Haunted Jailhouse & Halloween Carnival, had only two words to describe its appeal.

“It’s scary,” he said.

The annual carnival, set up on the parking lot of the local Sheriff’s Station on Magic Mountain Parkway, got underway at 11 a.m. and within two hours, the line of people waiting to be scared on the “haunted jailhouse” tour stretched around the lot.

Nine-year-old Brayden Hall took the tour.

The three younger kids with him, however, had to leave the tour early when it proved too much for them, he said.

“It was scary,” he said, noting that he had taken last year’s jailhouse tour.

“They had a doctor and people laying down with red paint on them like blood,” he said.

The year-to-year reputation of the “haunted jailhouse” is what enticed 7-year-old Andrea Tovar and her friend Marlene Garcia, 8, to join the line.

“We’re here because they kept saying they want to go,” said Tovar’s mother, Frances. “So here we are.”

Tyler Houck, 17, with the sheriff’s Law Enforcement Explorer Program, said only a handful of younger children left the tour early.

A non-scary “under 6” alternative was set up next to the tour, Houck said.

“I don’t want him to be scared too much,” said one woman who stood in the “Under 6” line with her 3-year-old son.

Sunday’s carnival attracted scores of young people including dance troupe members in ghoulish makeup, young costume contest contestants dressed up as turtles, vampires and other characters, and Senior Girl Scout Kathryn Cambra working on her Gold Award.

“I need 65 hours to do my whole project,” she said, handing out purple pin-on ribbons as a way of informing people about the importance of the Domestic Violence Center of the Santa Clarita Valley.

If any carnival event upstaged the jail this year, it was the zip-line put on by the Santa Clarita Valley Search & Rescue department, in which kids were strapped into a harness, given a helmet, then hoisted into the air 20 feet and pulled halfway across the parking lot.

“That was fun,” shouted one boy to his pals, each of whom had lined up for the event twice.

All of Sunday’s events — the food booths, face painting, rock climbing wall, bounce house, games of bean bag toss and the snakes on display by the Placerita Canyon Nature Center and Natural Area — raised money for the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

The carnival was sponsored by the club, the sheriff’s Department and the Santa Clarita Valley Newhall Optimist Club.

The Boys & Girls Club members are the ones who worked hard create the scarey jailhouse scenes, Jackson said.

“The jailhouse is incredible,” he said. “The Boys & Girls Club do a terrific job. The Boys & Girls Club is the one who drives this every year. We open our doors and they do everything.”


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