Waipahu 'Haunted Manor': bringing life into a neighborhood by scaring it to death

Dave Amodo
Dave Amodo

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

WAIPAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a little neighborhood in Waipahu, everybody knows there a house they have to go to, because it's the place where they can visit the "Haunted Mansion."

The mansion is actually in the garage of Dave Amodo, a former graphic artist and Web designer.

"A few years ago, this street was dead," he said. "And then ever since we started building this, the kids would come around and they'd help out, and they'd call their friends, and then all of a sudden we've got this big thing now."

It's gotten big enough over the past six years that it now attracts dozens of kids from the surrounding neighborhood. No question, the Haunted Manor is a Halloween night destination.

Work on the manor begins in September, when Amodo, his friends and neighbors start collecting cardboard boxes, especially the boxes for large appliances. And he maps out a course in his garage.

"We start from scratch again. The maze is different," Amodo said. "We try to mix it up because we have repeat customers, and they kinda know where the scare points are."

Amodo also gets help from neighborhood kids, who play the ghosts and ghouls in the manor. And others help out by painting. Some of them are high schools who usually paint murals around Waipahu.

"I think it took about five weeks to put this all together, and then the painting was about two days," said painter and Haunted Manor actor Blaize Velasquez, who's also a junior at Waipahu High School. "And then we do the scaring for fun. it's probably my favorite part," he added, laughing.

The National Retail Federation said that this year, the average person in the U.S. planned to spend $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66.28 last year, and the highest total every in the nine-year history of the survey.

How much does the Haunted Mansion cost? "I don't know," Amodo said. "I think more time. That's what it is. Because the cardboard was donated, the paint is donated."

But add some creativity, some imagination, some paint, and some of the neighborhood kids willing to help out, and you get something that has brought this neighborhood together every Halloween.

"We can't stop," Amodo said. "We gotta do it every year."

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