In the dark of night, a crackling fire encircles the castle moat.
Someone in the shadows pleads, “Help me,” as visitors creep past, entering the scene of a sorcerers’ duel. A looming dragon stands with its wings spread in the background.
Continue around the corner and a cemetery comes alive with the undead. A witch stirs her brew. A werewolf waits to pounce on his prey. A mad scientist works in his lab.
And that’s just part of the spookiness awaiting visitors who dare to enter this Halloween haunted tour. But don’t expect to find it in a big setting such as a business, farm or public venue.
This one snakes through a Davenport family’s residence.
Matt and Jennifer Young are opening their home at 2642 N. Concord St., Davenport, to the public for a “Family Spooktacular” event that begins tonight and runs every Friday and Saturday night through Oct. 29.
“We’re so excited about it,” she said. “Everything’s coming together.”
About 10 other families are pitching in to help with the event, which is the first time the Youngs — along with their three children and one grandchild — have tackled such a project. And it seems to get bigger by the day, Jennifer Young said.
But this is something she has wanted to try for a long time. She has been collecting supplies such as old fencing and decorations for quite a while, thinking, “This would work for a haunted house,” she said with a smile.
When it came time to think of a fundraiser for the Q-C Heat youth baseball team — on which her son plays — she immediately recalled her haunted house dream and decided to go for it. (The proceeds will help parents pay the fees associated with sending the players to tournaments.)
So, Young is enjoying watching the Halloween-themed scenery go up in their backyard, even though the process has required a lot of work. She and her husband, along with other volunteers, have been cutting wood and assembling cardboard to create what has turned out to be a castle-themed environment.
“Each tour will keep in mind the ages of the participants so as not to be too scary for the youngest in the group,” she said of the all-ages activity. “Think ‘The Munsters,’ not ‘Freddie vs. Jason.’ ”
The tour leads visitors through their backyard and into the main floor of their house, where a mad scientist has taken over the dining room for his lab. In the living room, a coffin replaces the couch. Spider webs hang everywhere. Spooks wait in the wings to scare folks as they head out the front door and back into the yard.
But that’s not the end of the fun, Young said. In the front yard, visitors can roast a hot dog or marshmallows on a bonfire and play kids’ games, she said.
That might seem like a lot for their small residential property, but the Youngs are looking forward to it. Yes, Jennifer is a little nervous because she doesn’t know how large a crowd to expect. But it’s a good kind of nervous, she said.
One of their neighbors, Leo Cartee, good-naturedly said his first question about the plan was: “Where are all those people going to park?”
When he built his house on North Concord Street, it was mostly surrounded by cornfields. Only a few houses were located along that street, and it dead-ended before reaching the spot where the Youngs’ house now stands, he said.
People could host big parties and no one was around to mind, he said, chuckling. The neighborhood is a lot more crowded now.
“But it doesn’t bother me, one way or the other,” he said of the event. “I see them always working out there in the backyard on it.”