June 29, 2016

Mostly clear

Cultivating scares

GRANGER TWP. — An autumn drive at twilight through winding township roads past plowed farmlands and leafless forests can be spooky enough.

One township resident is looking to take “scary” in Granger Township to a new level.

Brian Codding has turned a building on his family’s Wilbur Road farm into the Medina Haunted Barn — a 4,000-square-foot maze that features frights like an unhinged butcher, a psychotic inmate and a haunted farmhouse.

med-a1clr3colhaunt-copyAmy Klag applies makeup Thursday for fellow actor Michelle Otto. (Maria Kacik / Gazette)

Codding and his business partner Mike Leavitt employ about 15 actors whose sole job is to scare those who dare to go through the barn.

“We get people to freak out in there, and it’s hilarious. I go up in the loft just to watch as people get scared,” Codding said.

He said he once boarded horses on his farm, but stopped earlier this year.

“I just woke up one day (and) I thought, we got 37 acres and we have to do something agricultural with them,” he said. “And, I thought, boom, pumpkins.”

He planted a 400-foot pumpkin patch in the shape of a jack-o’-lantern and the Halloween theme grew from there. He began to plan hayrides, crafts and a straw maze all for the spooky season.

But Codding said he wanted something more, something truly scary.

“I was looking at that barn, and I said I could fix that barn up,” he said. Built in 1912, it hadn’t been used in 20 years. He said he used 15,000 gallons of water through a pressure washer to clean the walls and get more than two feet of matted straw off the floors.

He said as he went through the barn he found various items that were remnants of the days when it was used to farm several hundred acres. Items from the barn like furniture, old farm machinery, chicken wire and chains are now used to scare those going through the barn.

“A lot of things have fallen into our lap. To be honest with you, five months ago I wouldn’t have thought we’d get as far as we did,” Leavitt said.

He and Codding said they’ve been surprised with the turnout the haunted house has had since it opened earlier this month.

“People are blown away by this haunted barn. Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but it’s exceptional,” Codding said.

He said it generally takes people about seven minutes to get through the barn.

“But we have people who go through as fast as two or three minutes because they’re so scared and they run. And we’ve had people take 15 minutes because they’re too scared to turn the next corner,” he said.

The actors take it upon themselves to make sure people leave scared.

“If we know you’re terrified, we’re going to follow you more,” said Randall Arnold, who plays a deranged clown. “We get football players sitting in the corner in the fetal position because they’re scared. It’s hilarious.”

Codding said the staff at the haunted house is disappointed because after this weekend, the barn won’t be “haunted” again for another 11 months. “But we’re going to do this forever. We’re just going to get bigger and better. It’ll be so much fun. We’re here to stay,” he said.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.