Ghoul Mansion opens early for 20th year

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It may be a little early for Halloween attractions, but those involved with Ghoul Mansion in Sharon couldn’t resist taking advantage of Friday the 13th and the second WaterFire Sharon event on Saturday.

So, they opened the haunted attraction on Friday, as nearly 70 volunteers, mostly high school students, transformed into the creepy creatures of the night. The attraction will run for eight weekends.

“That’s exciting for everyone here, all the businesses, because it [WaterFire]gets some people down here to Sharon that maybe normally wouldn’t come down,” said Jim Bugos, managing partner of Ghoul Mansion.

For 20 years, the haunted mansion on Main Street has been the eeriest part of downtown Sharon, and each year is a little different than the last.

“It has to become more interactive, someone jumping out from behind a curtain isn’t scary anymore. A chainsaw running after somebody is not scary anymore. They expect animation and special effects and things like that and we try to incorporate more of that every year,” Bugos said.

Six different themes that start in the basement provide a new type of terror in all parts of the house. New this year is a local artist used paint to bring the frights to life in “3D: CarnEvil of Fear.”

“That’s our demented clowns and things and with the 3D glasses, the colors just fly off the floor. It’s like being in a 3D movie. You think that everything is right there in front of you all over the place,” Bugos said.

For the guys and girls volunteering their time to make sure guests get a good scare, they said Ghoul Mansion is a chance to be part of something special.

“It’s like a second family to me. I love doing this stuff. There’s new people and it’s a great time,” said Ghoul Mansion actor Sonny Rader.

Bugos said the volunteers help come up with the themes and scenes.

“It’s real easy for the kids to stay in front of a computer or a game system or whatever and they do. They take ownership and they come down and see what they can do to help improve the haunted house and come up with their own character ideas and scene ideas and we see how much we can incorporate them in,” Bugos said.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales is donated each year to the Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley.

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