October is the busiest time of year for the Rawson family. Together, they spend the weeks leading up to Halloween turning their front and back yards and garage into a haunted attraction for the entire neighborhood.
The family’s annual tradition started when they moved to the house at 4114 E Ave. NW. That first year, 1989, few trick-or-treaters rang their doorbell.
“We are kind of set back on the road here, and nobody would come. I would get full-size candy bars and, still, nobody would come. So, I kind of missed that,” recalls Dianna Rawson, the family matriarch, who decided perhaps a few decorations might help.
She set up a sign at the end of the yard, made a little cemetery, put candy bars in balloons decorated with a leaf to make them look like poison apples, and dressed up like a witch.
“That drew in about 75 people,” she says.
Over the next two decades, the family added more decorations, and turned their garage into a haunted house.
“I like to sit and watch cars that stop or slow down to look at our front yard, because if they do, I know they like the decorations and that makes me happy,” Dianna Rawson says.
Last year, around 2,000 people visited, but it was so popular, parking was a problem.
So this year, the family is doing things a little different. They’re opening their haunted house on Friday and Saturday for the first time, in addition to Halloween night.
“We have never really done a haunted house the weekend before Halloween,” Dianna Rawson says.
They add something new every year. This year, brothers Kevin and Brian Rawson were inspired to create their own spinning vortex.
From her office at Coonrod Crane Services, Diane Coonrod watches the Rawson brothers work on the vortex.
“I have been to the haunted house every year. I bring my 7-year-old granddaughter. All the kids in my family love to go over there. My oldest grandkid, who is 26, still goes there every year, too,” Coonrod says.
On Halloween, trick-or-treaters can expect hot dogs, popcorn, cookies and hot chocolate as well.
“Everything is free. Our neighbors, families and relatives contribute the food. We mostly want to make sure the kids have a good time,” Dianna Rawson says.