One haunted home
Vail, CO Colorado
A pair of creepy eyes looks out the upstairs window, with the sign “Beware of the Monster” posted just below. The windows are boarded up. Gargoyles stare down at passers-by from the roof and atop the pillars. A body hangs from a noose. There’s a plethora of ghosts and skeletons everywhere you look, all lit up for dramatic effect.
It’s a haunted house done right, fit for big-city exhibition, but it’s in the middle of Miller Ranch in Edwards. For the fifth year in a row, the Tadrzynski family has turned their home at 3 Cross Timber St. in Edwards into a full-blown haunted house, both inside and out. It’s clear the family of four is fanatical when it comes to fright night. Last year, a couple hundred people showed up; this year, they’re expecting two or three times that number.
“This will be, by far, the biggest year,” said Nick Tadrzynski, who along with his wife, Bianca, and boys, Evan and Tyler, have been hard at work on transforming their house. “This year, we’re doing a full haunt – through the front yard, onto the porch, through the house and out into the back yard. It’s four or five times the size.”
The haunting will begin at 5:30 p.m. today and continue until “everybody’s gone,” Nick said. It’s free.
Evan and Tyler don’t even want to go out trick-or-treating; they’d much rather stay at home and scare visitors who come over for a heart-racing good time.
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Evan, 4, is dressing up as Chucky (from the ’80s cult horror flick) this year and “will be running his own section of haunted dolls inside the house,” Nick said. “He came up with his own inflections for what he’s going to say.”
“Do you wanna play?” Evan asked over the phone in a high-pitched, screechy voice that’s fitting for the chunky, red-headed doll.
Meanwhile, Tyler, 9, has an elaborate costume, but it’s a secret.
“He’ll be on the porch; the whole porch is his, and he has a big acting job to do this year,” Nick said.
This is not an amateur getup – it takes them nearly a month to set everything up. The family spent a week in July in Utah with other members of Rocky Mountain Haunters, a group they belong to that’s dedicated to all things frightening.
“We learned all sorts of things there,” Nick said. “We pretty much build props all year long from scraps from the Habitat store or even construction sites where I stop in and say, ‘Hey, when you have leftovers, don’t throw them away; I’ll take them all.'”
The whole family gets in on the fun, building caskets, columns, pillars, latex skeletons and more.
There are props in every single corner, everywhere you look, Nick said. New this year are some pneumatic props, which use compressed air to surprise –and scare! – people.
“For a home haunt, there’s nothing like it here,” Nick said.
The past two years, Miller Ranch was so busy, some firefighters had to close a nearby road to control traffic for awhile, Nick said.
“Miller Ranch has become the place to go to trick or treat,” Nick said. “We have lots of kids in the area, the houses are close together, and every year seems to grow and grow. People come from Eagle-Vail and even Gypsum.”
Lots of homes in Miller Ranch are decorated for the occasion, but they don’t hold a jack-o’-lantern to the Tadrzynski home.
“I think it’s the best haunted house in all of Eagle County,” said Bob Boselli, a Homestead resident who will be one of nearly a dozen actors scaring people at the home this year. “This year will be the best yet.
“For a kid, it’s scary as all get out. As an adult, you’re amazed someone would take the time, energy and finances to do something like this.”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.