By Kathy Feist
First comes the darkness and the fog. Then spiders. A creepy jaunt through a haunted forest is followed by a mystery of mazes. Should you find your way out, a trip through a eerie swamp, hall of dolls and finally the tunnel of tall men leads to your final destination: full-sized candy bars and an exit out of this Martin City mayhem.
At 6 foot 8 inches, Zach Hainline gets to play the part of the tall man that hands out the candy. He will get to see the looks of terror, tears of relief or smiles of joy as trick or treaters exit his haunted house he built at 401 E. 133rd St. Free to children and adults and opening tomorrow, Oct. 31, at dusk, the responses to his manifestation will be his reward.
“Halloween is ugly,” Hainline says as if to explain the initial appearance of the front yard monstrosity. Massive amounts of black tarp drape over a 2,000 square foot structure attached to his garage. “The trashier, the better,” he adds.
Hainline plans to add on each year. “But you have to start somewhere,” he says of his first attempt.
Hainline should know. As a kid, Halloween became a major attraction at his house in Overland Park. His parents started with simple Halloween antics at their doorway that grew to a garage tunnel and eventually driveway.
“By the time I was in high school, not only did we have the tunnel, but we had scaffolding along the driveway and planks going across. My mom painted the side of a pirate ship on some foam and put a hole in it like you were walking into a pirate ship. This is the kind of Halloween I grew up on,” he recalls.
During Christmas, Hainline decorates commercial properties that become destinations, most notably the Vince & Associates (now Altasciences) building at 101st and Metcalf, and most recently the City of Manhattan, Kansas, which can boast the tallest Christmas tree in the state.
Creativity is in his blood, while lights, lasers, animatronics and many props are in his possession. This Halloween haunt is his contribution to his community. “I don’t do soup kitchens,” he says. “I do this instead to make the community nicer and more pleasant.”
He hopes its impact also hits elsewhere.
“My wife and I hope that we make good memories for the kids,” he says, “and that they in turn do the same thing for their communities one day.”