Up for a good scare? Try Castle Dread in Havana

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By Angye Morrison

In the mood for a good scare? Do you like to slink about in graveyards? Do you enjoy seances and hanging out with ghouls, ghosts and other scary creatures? Do things that go bump in the night make your skin crawl with delight?

If you answered yes to any of the above, head on out to Terror on 12: Castle Dread.

Castle Dread, located on Highway 12 in Havana, is the brainchild of Debbie Tanner, who dreamed up the haunted attraction 18 years ago.

“People were afraid to take their kids trick or treating back then (due to drug activity), and a lot of parents couldn’t get their kids to the mall in Tallahassee on time to trick or treat there,” she said. “This started out as something for the kids, but adults enjoy it too.”

Tanner turned the shop in her backyard into Castle Dread and each year, with the help of volunteers, she adds something new and changes things around to keep the attraction fresh. Many of the volunteers have been with her since the beginning. She has about 23 people who help out each night.

Many of the creatures throughout the castle have been handmade by Tanner and her helpers, including the animatronic ones. The ones that move are built by a local young man who uses air compressers to make them come to life. There are also mannequins and people in costume located throughout.

“You don’t what’s real and what’s not,” Tanner laughed. “That’s part of the scare.”

As guests enter the castle, they’re met with a seance featuring a creepy crew, and are warned if they enter, they may be trapped in Castle Dread forever.

Throughout the attraction there are things that are guaranteed to make you scream, including special lighting effects, surprises, fog and even the “Hellavator,” which scares even the bravest souls.

“We had some guys from FAMU come here, and they said nothing would scare them,” Tanner said. “They got on the Hellavator and when the lights came back on, all you heard was the one on the bottom of the pile screaming for the others to get off him. They were all piled on the floor, scared to death.”

Outside of Castle Dread there are some special features as well. There is a cemetery featuring some familiar names on the tombstones " many bear the names of local business owners and community leaders. There’s also a haunted carriage and a “live” band, “Spooky and the Gang,” singing your favorite Halloween tunes.

Tanner said last year the attraction drew about 3,000 people. A small portion of the funds raised goes to  cover expenses, but the majority of the money goes to two different charities: Children of Our Troops and the Gadsden County Humane Society.

Castle Dread will be open Oct. 22-24 and 28-31, from 7:30-10:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and from 7:30-midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. Cost is $10 per person for adults, and kids 6 and under get in free. Groups of 10 or more pay $8 each.

For more information, call 539-9346 or go online at www.terroron12.com. To get there, turn off U.S. Highway 27 in Havana on County Road 12, go 7 miles, and Castle Dread is on the right, at 7702 Fairbanks Ferry Rd.

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