Growing up in northern California I had a difficult time finding events and attractions associated with the Halloween holiday. Things were especially difficult in my home town of Stockton, but they got a little better when I moved to the Sacramento area as I entered military service and was stationed at Mather Air Force Base. Years later I decided to relocate to Utah for two years of seminary studies, and in the back of my mind I thought what little ability I had to enjoy Halloween and all things spooky would disappear like so much ectoplasm. After all, I thought, Utah is largely Mormon, and as such it is a very conservative culture. There’s now way that Halloween will be enjoyed in that state. Or so I thought.
To my great surprise I discovered that the second most popular holiday in Utah is Halloween! The state is filled with haunted hay rides, pumpkin patches, and a plethora of haunted houses. One of the greatest is Rocky Point Haunted House (www.rockypointhauntedhouse.com
). This is, by far, the most amazing haunted house experience ever. Rocky Point has been in existence for 26 years and is under the ownership of Cydney Neil. Neil, and Rocky Point, have become icons in the haunted attraction business, having been featured in HauntWorld
magazine as well as Fright Times
and Haunted Attraction
. (For more information on Rocky Point, its history, and Neil’s creative leadership in the haunt business see www.rockypointhauntedhouse.com/final_fear.html
.) I was unable to visit the event last year, and shortly thereafter I heard the news that Rocky Point was closing down. However, they were doing to final performances over a weekend in March and one in April. Last night it was my privilege to be part of the last evening’s performance for this fine show. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m still working off the adrenalin rush.
It was great to have a chance to experience the childhood thrills of Halloween in April. The downside is that now I have to find a haunted house alternative in October. Perhaps Nightmare on 13th. If only I had the disposable income to invest in my own business like this.
But in addition to my sheer enjoyment of such things, I return to an issue I raised at the beginning of this post. Why is Halloween and related events and activities so popular in a state with a large Mormon population? I don’t think you’d find something similar in the Bible Belt. This seems like a great research project in the sociology of religion.