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Vacant Old Town building morphs into 'Scare Factory' this October

CNC hosts its first haunted house, 'Nightmare on Mainstreet'

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Chris Aarseth stands in the pirate room of the haunted house, which has been decorated by his fiancé, Cheryl Lyn Malloneé, on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Opening night for the haunted house is Friday, Sept. 30.St. Helens’ only stand-alone haunted house, “Nightmare on Main Street,” opens this weekend, part of a citywide, month-long celebration of the Halloween season.

Saturday, Oct. 1, officially marks the kickoff of St. Helens’ Spirit of Halloweentown, a celebration of the spooky holiday, but those interested in getting a jump start on the festivities can visit the CNC Scare Factory haunted house this Friday night, starting at 5 p.m.

While several organizations provide haunted walking tours throughout town in October, there is only one haunted house where visitors can walk through themed rooms, haunted corridors and labyrinths where creepy-crawlies exist in the heart of downtown St. Helens.

Scappoose’s Chris Aarseth, owner of CNC Scare Factory, the company putting on the show, spent months preparing for the “Nightmare on Main Street” display in the top

floor of the 2Cs Vendor Mall on 1st Street in historic downtown.

Entering the building through an ominous, narrow rear entrance sets the haunted house’s tone from the start. Aarseth wants visitors to be surprised, spooked and startled at every turn.

“I’m looking forward to scaring people,” he joked last week while setting up displays.

While Aarseth’s business may be relatively new, having only been registered with the state in April this year, the business owner’s love of Halloween and all things scary

has been a life-long affair, he said.

Living in Sweden for 10 years as a young child, Aarseth said he experienced a drastically different cultural experience when it came to Halloween. Children often dressed in simple costumes, not the elaborate getups common in the United States today. It had a different feel and approach.

When he moved back to the United States as an adult, Aarseth began building haunted houses in his garage using his knowledge of sound boards and special effects from his experience as a disc jockey. Neighbors would often flock to his house to see what he had created each year. Television news cameras also came out

to film and interview him, he said.

“I just loved Halloween, and I missed 10 years of it before and wanted to make up for it,” Aarseth said.

Working as a computer technician for many years, Aarseth helped install several special effects light displays in downtown businesses during Spirit of Halloweentown festivities in 2015. Event organizer Tina Curry contacted him this year asking if he would be interested in creating a downtown haunted house experience.

“I see this as a way to help the community,” Aarseth said. “We are Halloweentown. That’s really who we are.”

The city’s historic downtown may be the perfect location for a Halloween-themed event. Aarseth described St. Helens as “the coolest town ever.” Often, he said, it feels like you’ve been taken back in time.

“The people really make the town and give character to it,” he added.

The haunted house opens this weekend, and tickets are available online. Aarseth said he’s already sold some tickets to people planning to visit from Great Britain.

“It feels like there’s a freight train coming at 100 miles an hour and there’s no stopping it,” Aarseth said of this year’s Spirit of Halloweentown, laughing.

Opening night for the haunted house is Friday, Sept. 30. Child-friendly tours will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., with regular haunted tours running from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Tours will be held on Saturday and Sunday also.

If you go:

Nightmare on Main Street is open every weekend in October, Thursday to Sunday.

Children's shows are held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tours for adults are held from 8 p.m. to midnight. A VIP tour is also available from midnight to 1 a.m. for small groups of no more than five people. Admission is $7 for children and $14 for adults. Buy tickets for the haunted house online at www.cncscarefactory.com