With almost all of the usual Halloween events canceled in New Mexico this year because of COVID-19, Darrell Cunningham and his father, James, are working to keep the Halloween spirit alive, in a socially distanced manner, by hosting the ninth annual Cunningham Haunt House.
In past years, the Cunninghams have transformed James’ house at 2308 E. 14th St. in Farmington by building a haunted maze that traverses through the yard and carport. However, based on the recommendations and public health orders from the governor, Cunningham said they have changed this year’s approach.
The haunt house is being designed this year for people to view from a car or from the sidewalk. The Cunninghams will not be giving out candy. Darrell Cunningham is busy constructing this year’s haunt house, complete with a pirate ship, graveyard, group of witches and much more.
“The biggest thing for us this year is to just let people know we are still here,” Cunningham said. “We want to do the other stuff, but our governor has already told us we can’t.”
The Cunninghams will be closing off their yard and ask that anyone who walks up to the fence wear a face covering.
The Cunningham Haunt House started in 2011. Cunningham said the first year was small in terms of decorations, but it quickly grew in size.
“People really loved it and a lot of people started coming by. So, we got bigger the next year,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said he is passionate about Halloween.
“We’re trying to get people back in the spirit of Halloween because it’s gone away some as I’ve gotten older,” Cunningham said. “It’s mostly for the kids, but a lot of it is for us. We’re all still kids at heart, I guess.”
While the Cunninghams buy some of the decorations, almost everything is handmade. Cunningham said making the decorations with his father is a large part of the fun. He estimated about 300 people came to see the haunt house last year and is unsure how many people will visit this year.
The haunt house will be operational only on Halloween night, and Cunningham hopes to entertain, scare and excite as many people as possible.