Haunted garage

Honeypie Nature Playschool owner Janell Moran is planning this year’s haunted garage. Each year, trick-or-treaters and their families are invited to walk through the eerie garage.

On Halloween night, one playschool transforms its garage into a maze of horror.

Honeypie Nature Playschool, 6210 Wildflower Court, will open its annual haunted garage on Halloween night from 5-8 p.m. The event is free and open to all trick-or-treaters and their families. Honeypie Nature Playschool is collecting canned donations for the McFarland Food Pantry.

The spooky maze features a fog machine, sound effects, black lights and a few jump scares.

“You just don’t know which corner we are around,” owner Janell Moran said.

Between 5-6:30 p.m., the lights stay on for younger children. Then the lights are shut off for the rest of the night.

“As it gets darker, we turn the lights out, and it gets a little scarier,” Moran said.

Moran started the first haunted garage at Honeypie Nature Playschool in 2012, three years after the playschool opened its doors in Lost Creek. The 10-year veteran of child care centers dreamed of having her own child care center.

She received a state license and the school became certified as part of the Nature Explore outdoor classroom and eco-healthy program. The school features a play-based approach to learning and remains nature-focused with an outdoor classroom.

“When we first started it, it was just something fun for the kids to create and just to have a process-type art for them,” she said.

Children painted pumpkins and decorated boxes for the garage and invited their families for a scare.

Proud of their work, they asked if other people could walk through it.

“Then we just kept it up that night for trick-or-treating, and it just was a hit, so we just kind of continued it from there,” Moran said.

She continued the tradition after moving to McFarland in 2017. Last year, about 70 people walked through the creepy garage Halloween night.

Moran said that as soon as the leaves start changing colors, her children and the children at the playschool start asking when they can plan the haunted garage. They help by planning and creating decorations. They draw out their ideas for decorations, sounds and lights.

“Some of the ideas are quite extravagant, but we try our best,” she said.

The kids paint pumpkins and stuff extra costumes with leaves and hay, and the building process starts one week before Halloween.

Moran said she and her family of Halloween-lovers wanted to celebrate the holiday “and just kind of give back to the community a little bit and have something fun for them to do on Halloween night.”

Moran began collecting donations for the food pantry during the haunted garage last year as another way to service the McFarland community. Fifteen donations were collected and she hopes to collect more cans this year.

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