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Many families have their own holiday traditions, that bring the family closer together . Some have Easter Egg Hunts on Easter Sunday, some read "'The Night Before Christmas" by the fireplace on Christmas Eve, but for the past seven years at the Kraft household, they do something a little bit more sinister to celebrate their favorite holiday. On Halloween night they invite guests into Their home, more importantly, their basement for a trick and a treat.

In this issue, the home haunt I will be talking about is Jeff Kraft's "Haunted Basement". Located in Hackensack New Jersey, "The Haunted Basement" began when Jeff's wife belonged to a theatre group and had offered to store the group's props, sets, and costumes in their home. Well, just one year later, the theater group disbanded and the decision they faced was either throw all that stuff away or find some use for it. So for his daughters birthday, Jeff decided to use it to create a small maze haunt in his basement. It was a huge hit with all the kids, so from there Jeff and family started to add to it and create a large home haunt in the basement every October, making it bigger and better every year.

The Haunted Basement" is made up of 10 rooms and a few long hallways. Each scene is filled with assorted witches, skeletons, bats, monsters, spiders and other traditional

Halloween images. No movie characters will be found here and that's the way Jeff wants it. He wants to pass down the traditional Halloween themes to all the young trick-or-treaters that come through. The theme is not the only traditional element in "The Haunted Basement", but
the haunt itself has become a tradition within the family and will be passed on down to the children for many years to come. "My kids are already fighting who gets the "buckys" and who gets the tombstones whenever I stop haunting and they leave the nest."

One of the highlights of "The Haunted Basement" is the science lab, at the end of the haunt, where the victims who

foolishly adventure the dark halls get to put their hand in a covered sink and feel around for "body parts". Some of the body parts within the lab are actually "quite tasty". You will also pass through other rooms like slaughter house, bone alley, lost spirits, ghost hall, the witches
lair, and the corn field just to name a few. For 2003, they will be adding some new rooms as well as keeping many of the old rooms that have become favorites among their guests.

All of the props that Jeff has made in the past were static and homemade, however Jeff does plan to try to create some animated props for this coming season. Also "on the slab" for this coming season is a more detailed cemetery outside in hopes to create more traffic for his home haunt. Nine new realistic tombstones, two half coffins in a 6' X 18' plot filled with assorted zombies with a new fence to enclose the resting place of the dead. Jeff builds most of his props using what is around the home or he wanders the neighborhood to collect, in his words, " much trash as my neighbors can throw out."

"The Haunted Basement" has on average 5-6 actors ready to jump out and scare to doo doo out of you. Mostly Jeff, his wife, and 2 children (a son and a daughter) with the help from his daughters friend and an old theatre buddy of Jeff's (from the Rocky Horror production), who travels 3 hours to help out with the haunt.

Planing for "The Haunted Basement" starts on November first, immediately following their last haunt, with props being made all year round. Setup for the haunt starts the first week in September and is finished around mid October. The outside display is set up the first weekend in October. "The Haunted Basement" is open Halloween night from 5:00 PM until about 9:00 PM.

Jeff from the time he was a child has always decorated the home for Halloween. Some of Jeff's influences include 'Rocky Horror'; "I met my wife at

'Rocky Horror' on Halloween." "Another influence would be my daughter...she may look like my wife but she has my personality. So we kinda like the same things and gives me ideas."

"The Haunted Basement" is a great example of a number of things. First off, how one can produce a full size elaborate haunted attraction like the pros on a small budget. And most of all how something like a home haunt can get everybody in the house together and give them something to do as a family. If anything, that's the true spirit of a home haunt.

Jeff plans to host "The Haunted Basement" for many years to come and then pass it down to the kids. He also plans to keep it a home haunt to continue the family tradition. "I do this for Halloween and for the is not a business and I do not charge or take donations."


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