Gavin Lacy, of Glen Head, didn’t spend his Halloween trick-or-treating this year. The 14-year-old, spent the spooky night doing something different — raising money for charity.
Since he was 10, the North Shore High School freshman, has put up a homemade haunted house at his home to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. Every year, local residents flock to the Lacy household to get a scare and show they care.
His mother, Kristina Lacy, said Gavin was initially inspired to help their close family friends affected with cystic fibrosis who had wishes granted by Make A Wish.
“His haunted house is known in the neighborhood, just by word of mouth,” she said. “The neighbors like to be a part of it, and look forward to it, and it’s something that brings the community together for a good cause.”
Gavin said one of his favorite parts of preparing the haunted house is the actual construction of it, which he said starts about a month before Halloween weekend. “The design was planned through September, but the building started later [in October] than I wanted to,” he said. “Getting to engineer and design and decorate it is cool, but the scaring at the end is always fun.”
Since its start in 2013, Gavin’s haunted house has grown tremendously. In the beginning, the house only took over about a quarter of the front porch. This year, the house took up a third of the families’ backyard.
“It’s been cool to see it grown and expand and add people to it,” Gavin said. “It’s really developed a community. The little kids in the neighborhood want to get involved, so it’s nice to know we’ll have people to carry it on and push it forward.”
The initial house began with Gavin and three of his neighborhood friends, also North Shore students. This year, the house employed 20 volunteers from the middle and high schools to scare visitors on All Hallows Eve.
After the costumes come off, the kids go to Make A Wish headquarters to donate the money they raised from the haunted house. “It’s nice because they get to see what they’re contributing to,” Kristina said.
“Visiting Make A Wish was a cool experience,” said Mike Heffernan, 14, of Glen Head. “We enjoy doing this because we know we’re contributing to families who need it.”
Kelly Weber, 14, of Glen Head, said volunteering in the house is a unique way to spend Halloween. “I enjoy it a lot, and it’s fun to hang out with the other kids,” she said. “Also, it’s fun to scare my family and friends who come through.”
The house that Gavin built featured an array of rooms crawling with creep. The deadly dining room had a table stacked with gore-filled goodies like severed limbs and bloody beverages. The quarantine room was awash in white, and was occupied by screaming patients in medical gowns. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any scarier, spirited children shocked visitors from inside the walls — literally. Certain walls of the house had secret corridors built behind them for the kids to hide in; a frightful feature Gavin engineered himself.
Although the house didn’t charge admission, the kids were able to raise a considerable amount of money from community contributions. This year, Gavin’s haunted house raised over $1,800 for the Make A Wish Foundation. “I’m very grateful to everyone for their generosity so the kids are able to make this grand donation,” Kristina added.
This was Matty Papiro’s third year participating in the haunted house. The 13-year-old Glen Head resident said he looks forward to coming back and helping out every year. “I love seeing people’s reactions when I scare them, and it’s an awesome way to raise money.”
“[This event] showcases how wonderful our children are, and how they can really make a positive difference in this world by helping other kids, and inspiring others to do the same,” Kristina said.
Gavin said he and his gang of ghouls will be back next Halloween to terrorize the neighborhood.