When Sam DuBois was 11 he visited a nearby city’s haunted house. Sam decided he could do the same thing at his mom’s house in Albany,California. Each year since, he’s worked on building it bigger and better, with critters and creatures and people winding their way through the family’s backyard. Sam’s mom, Holly, has watched as he learned all sorts of carpentry and electrical skills, not to mention design and art. He even created his own masks.
Each year the haunted house asks for donations at the entrance, but no one is turned away for an inability to pay. All proceeds go to benefit the Alameda County Food Bank. So far, thanks to Sam, the donations have provided 2,500 meals for people in need.
But construction of the Halloween adventure was stopped, all thanks to a lawsuit by an angry neighbor who says he’s worried the haunted house will get even bigger and draw in more and more traffic.
“It’s growing every year, so what happens next year?” angry neighbor Gary Kratkin said to KQED. “We decided this time to at least bring the city into it and go through the legal process. You can’t just build anything.”
Another neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous said she was threatened after filing complaints against the house. She doesn’t like looking at the structure and she thinks DuBois is too noisy when he’s working to construct it during the day. She also expressed concerns that the display’s content was too scary for her young children.
Sam took steps to ensure there were no complicationswith his construction plans this year. He consulted Albany’s Fire Marshal, who approved the plans. However, the neighbor’s anonymous complaint tipped off Albany City Planner Anne Hersch, who told Sam he needed a temporary use permit, as well.
The City of Albany is set to vote on the measure this week. Here’s hoping Sam can keep up his good work.
Check out this interview Sam did with Youth Radio a few years ago talking about his project:
Featured image courtesy of screen capture.