As the spooky season reaches its crescendo, the ghosts and ghouls residing in the Old Kings County Courthouse get a chance to scare up some fun this weekend.
Hanford Parks and Recreation hosts its annual Haunted House event in the old courthouse from 6-10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
“We’re trying to take it up a notch,” said Recreation Supervisor Armando da Silva. “The Courthouse has a vibe, an aesthetic, of a creepy old building and we kick it up a notch with the decorations and scares. Everybody loved it last year, so we’ll do it again until they tell us to stop.”
The haunted house event began at the Civic Auditorium a few years ago before moving to the courthouse last year. About 1,600 thrill seekers attended in 2021 and da Silva is expecting to up that number to about 2,000 this year.
With the $5 admission price, visitors will be led through the courthouse, or at least a haunted labyrinthian version of it full of ghosts, ghouls and cannibals played by Parks and Rec employees and volunteers.
The theme for this year is that the courthouse has been turned into a creepy funeral parlor.
“We’ve got zombies, we’ve got ghosts, we’ve got creepy dead people,” said recreation leader Raquel Perez.
Planning for the haunted maze began about two months ago, with construction beginning in the courthouse at the beginning of October. The team has been working for about four hours a day to get the project as scary as it can be before opening night.
The recommended age for the attraction is 10 and up, but younger thrill-seekers will not be turned away, da Silva said. Those looking to mitigate their scares can show up early, Perez said, as the haunt is a little less scary while daylight still streams in through the courthouse windows.
However, it’s also possible that visitors will get scares not included in the ticket price as well.
Both Perez and da Silva said they’ve noticed creepy things while working in the long-rumored-to-be-haunted building.
“Some of the animatronics have gone off on their own while I’ve been working,” da Silva said. “I don’t know if it’s paranormal.”
“We also hear the elevator doors open when no one is there,” Perez said. “We just pretend it didn’t happen.”
Vendors and outdoor children’s activities will also take place in the courtyard during the Haunted House operating hours.
The attraction will have its soft opening during the final Thursday Night Market of the season, which is also Halloween-themed.
The Old Courthouse is located at 113 Court St., Hanford. For more information, call 559-585-2525.