With Halloween fast approaching, many who celebrate the holiday like to give themselves a good scare by visiting a spooky haunted house.
St. Charles Parish residents who count themselves within that crowd won’t have to venture far this year thanks to Kyle Shehadi and Rodney Smith, who have established “Haunting on Da Bayou,” a haunted house set up right along Hwy. 90 in Boutte.
Located at 14271 Hwy. 90, the jump scares begin at 6 p.m. on the remaining weekends in October. Shehadi and Smith converted a warehouse into the new Halloween enterprise, which stands among the most affordable haunted houses in the area at $15 entry for adults and $5 for children.
Making haunted houses has long been a Halloween hobby of Smith, who established the tradition alongside his father when they lived in Arkansas before bringing it along with them to Smith’s Bayou Gauche home.
“I’ve been doing it for 40 years,” Smith said. “It was so long ago, I couldn’t exactly tell you what got me to do it. It’s fun and interesting, and I just went for it. People have been showing up year after year after year.”
It’s those people that primarily keep his interest in it high. He says nothing beats seeing the reaction of people who have gone through one of his creations.
“Absolutely, that’s the most fun part for me,” he said. “The feedback, people telling me they liked it and enjoyed it. Just knowing so many people are going to have fun. It’s about the people – it really is. I love watching them enjoy it.”
Shehadi, who works in the construction business, bought a commercial complex that came with seven rented units and one empty unit. What to do with the latter was a question for Shehadi, though he quickly came to an answer.
“The first thing I thought of was recruiting Rodney for Halloween,” Shehadi said. “It’s something I always wanted to do. Rodney’s definitely the creative mind for it, but being around him so much now, it’s kind of rubbed off on me. At first, I was just following directions, but then I kind of got into that headspace and started taking off and working on sections by myself.”
Shehadi said finding the correct balance between darkness and light and other items was key.
“You want it to be dark, but not so dark people are just walking around in pitch black,” Shehadi said. “You have to have some light, but you don’t want everything lit up. And even with the decorations … you want to make it scary, but not anything above and beyond where people want to go. The way it came out, it’s scary but still fun.”
“It’s about giving them enjoyment versus trying to scare them,” Smith said. “This is about fun.”
Though the attraction has been open for a few weeks now, Smith isn’t resting on his laurels. His mind has leapt toward ways to tweak and add to the environment to make it even better, as well as to update it for the upcoming Halloween crowd, which may include some repeat visitors.
“Honestly, I’m used to really setting these houses up for the weekend of Halloween, so this was by far the earliest I’ve started,” Smith said. “We’ve already had so many people go through it, so I feel like I have to restructure it the closer we get to Halloween.”
This year will be the lone year the venue is featured in Boutte – but it isn’t going far. Shehadi said next year, the plan is to move operations to a five-acre property in Des Allemands, where he says there will be room for expansion as well.