WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Back when Rich LaMance and his friends were in elementary school, running a haunted house was just a fun hobby. Twenty years of spooks and scares later, they have turned it into a business.
LaMance, 38, and his friends, Marc Mancini, 38, Mike Mancini, 38 and Mathew Tuffarelli, 37, have run the Haunt at Rocky Ledge, which prides itself on being seven acres of pure, unadulterated terror, for four years.
The four started in the business of scaring people at Harrison's S.J. Preston Elementary School, where they attended, in the 90's at the school's annual Halloween festival.
When the school stopped having a festival, they continued at one of their houses in West Harrison. The completely self-funded attraction, called the Haunted Dead End , caused such a stir in the area that police had to come monitor traffic.
"It became the Halloween hangout for families," LaMance said, "It all started from one idea. We had no advertising, people just knew about it from word of mouth. We'd get hundreds of people to come."
Though the four went on to pursue regular day-jobs, they kept the house running for 15 years before deciding to turn the attraction into a full-on business.
"We are really interested in figuring out what scares people, and how to improve each year," he said.
The group enlisted the help of the White Plains' Rocky Ledge Swim Club, which is closed for the season after Labor Day. The seven-acre wooded property lends itself to spooking people - and the haunted house is a great publicity tool for the club.
Though they were adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy last year, the attraction relaunched this year in full force, with two haunted houses, a woodland trail and Westchester's only haunted cornfield - which they planted themselves.
This year's theme is a haunted asylum. According to LaMance, guests walk the entire perimeter of the property while following a storyline.
"The experience begins when you step out of the car and takes you through the whole property. It's a 30 minute experience for only $17 - a great value," he said.
The four men participate in the frightening festivities, and additionally hire over 50 actors from neighboring SUNY Purchase.
The Haunt at Rocky ledge is recommended for children ages 10 and up, though it is left up to parental discretion.
"I've seen kids walk through it laughing the whole way, and I've seen adults get scared out of their minds. It really depends," he said.
The trail does contain jump-scares and may not be ideal for those with heart conditions.
You can catch the Haunt for its final weekend this week, on Friday 8 p.m. - 11 p.m., Saturday 7 p.m. - 11 p.m. and Sunday 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. Tickets are $17 or $16 if you like the Haunt on Facebook.
For more information, check out their website here .
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