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A place of terror: Spring Valley Scare is sure to frighten

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Richard O'Neil (left) and Bill Reed pictured at Spring Valley Scare. O'Neil helps design and scare individuals while Reed helps build the props used. Photo courtesy of Spring Valley Scare2 / 2

It all started when Darcie Larrieu was looking for a way to raise money for her daughter's trip to London for a cheerleading competition.

After pondering what to do, Larrieu got an idea and decided to approach Bill Reed and Richard O'Neil. She approached them because they all have one thing in common.

They love Halloween.

The first ever Spring Valley Scare was created four years ago, first in a yard, now at the Spring Valley Community Center on the village's main street, McKay Avenue.

Spring Valley Scare offers a unique haunted house experience that only comes around every couple of years.

This isn't a run-of-the-mill haunted house where people dress up in poorly coordinated costumes with hokey tricks planned for those who dare enter their home.

The trio have experienced those kinds of haunted houses and, in their mind, they're not up to snuff.

"I go to any haunted house that I can go to," Larrieu said. "I literally walk through and I laugh."

O'Neil, who helped run and design Trail of Terror in Shakopee, Minn., recalls visiting Harriet Island in St. Paul, Minn., when he was younger, where no one laughed.

"I went to my first real haunted house when I was seven or eight," O'Neil said. "And they chase you around. There was literally a cop with a chainsaw, running around dressed like Jason."

Spring Valley Scare is interactive. The actors will grab, harass, and frighten people to no end. Whether it's teenagers or grown men, the group wants to give you an experience like never before.

"We get some of these big, burly college guys and they'll hear something and go, 'I think I'll just wait for you, dear,'" Reed said.

The group transforms the Community Center into a maze of sorts, with different rooms ranging from a nursery of zombie babies to caverns stuffed with demons and devils, and of course, clowns.

They pull no punches, according to O'Neil, who said at Spring Valley Scare they have a think tank, but not the usual kind.

"It's like having a think tank," O'Neil said. "But a think tank on how the hell to scare you."

O'Neil's the designer and scares people as well, while Larrieu helps spread the word on Facebook and run the show, with Reed building the nightmare that people walk into.

"If they come up with the idea, I'll build it," Reed said.

The group says each year their approach is different, introducing new horror to the landscape. There's a variety of actors who stealthly navigate the trap doors and cages, waiting for people who walk through, even finding out their names.

They're merciless and love to scare.

"We're giggling our butts off, but we're going to work harder on ya," Reed said. "If we know you're scared, you open the door for us."

The group didn't want all of their secrets revealed; they utilize the element of surprise often, in ways that may cause a pants wetting incident, which has happened.

Luckily, that's just the adult version, that is open from 7 p.m to midnight. For children, and adults who value their health, a walk through with no actors and the lights on is available from 4-6 p.m. with children able to get a treat at the end.

Tickets are $7 online and $10 at the door, and the children's event is $3. Tickets are available for purchase at the group's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/svscare/.

Spring Valley Scare will be open Oct. 20, 21, 27, and 28.

For the adult tour, ages 14 can participate, but must have an adult signature if they are a minor. A waiver is required before entering as well. Just in case.

Larrieu said they've been able to attract people from all over, ranging from the Twin Cities to Eau Claire, and said they enjoy reading reviews about how they're "too scary."

The group isn't interested in hurting people, rather, they want to offer an experience unlike any other around the area.

This place isn't for the faint of heart. At a moment, while everyone around you may be terrorized and you feel safe, know that won't last long.

In fact, the most stone-faced, macho individuals that traverse through Spring Valley Scare are the favorite targets for the group.

O'Neil, who presents the intensity of a John Carpenter character, wants people to know one thing.

"At some point, one of my actors is going to see you react to something," O'Neil said. "We've got you...there's something that freaks everybody out."

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal in December 2016 covering government, school board, and writing features about the community. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. 

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