Whistler Haunted House returns after challenging year

Despite a debilitating snowboard injury, Brendan Cavanagh is putting on the annual event for a fourth year

Brendan Cavanagh wasn’t sure he would host his now-famous Whistler Haunted House for a fourth year.

Since 2012, he and a group of friends had transformed his rented Brio home into a meticulously crafted, completely creepy haunted house, with proceeds going to Whistler Community Services Society.

“I was at a point in my life where I wanted to do something (to give back) that I would really enjoy doing,” Cavanagh said. “I had three criteria — it had to be a ton of fun, it had to be creative and it had to give back to the community itself… For me, letting my imagination soar, I absolutely love that.”

As many locals know, last winter Cavanagh was in a devastating snowboard accident that broke his back and left him wheelchair bound. He lived in Vancouver to be closer to resources after the injury, and moved back to Whistler at the end of August.  

He’s made a steady recovery over the last 10 months, but the accident took a toll mentally as well. “For me, it’s been a moment-to-moment mental war against myself,” he said. “Just to try and stay focused, stay relaxed, stay determined. There’s this little voice nagging at me saying, ‘Just give up. Just give up.’ It’s constant… Certain elements of the mind tend to dominate a person once they’ve had a traumatic experience like this. The way I understand it, (my brain’s) job is to protect me from stressful scenarios. Anything that isn’t lying in bed getting a foot massage is considered stressful.”

That’s why friends were surprised when Cavanagh announced he wanted to put on the haunted house this year. “It took a long time for me to decide whether I wanted to take it on or not,” he said. “I was feeling pretty confident we could pull it off together. When I finally broke the news, for some of them it was too late to help because they had already started with other projects. Some of them were absolutely astonished — most people didn’t expect it.”

The haunted house is taking place outside this year at Paul Fournier’s property in Tapley’s Farm — a neighbourhood that hosts Whistler’s Halloween celebrations every year — in an outdoor venue. “We’re maximizing the use of space with twists and turns and anything we can throw in there that’ll make it more entertaining,” Cavanagh said.

For fans of the Brio version — don’t worry. The famous (and terrifying) “spookers” that jump out at passersby will still be part of the fun. (The group is still looking for volunteers, if you’d like to be on the other side of the scare.)

“I would say it’ll be more compact than last year, but probably equally as terrifying,” Cavanagh said.

The Whistler Haunted House will run from Wednesday (Oct. 28) until Saturday (Oct. 31) at 6344 Easy St. (Don’t park on Easy Street, organizers warn.)

The “family fun” version will run from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and the “full scare” will take place from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. On Halloween the hours are 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. for families and 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. for adults.

Tickets will be a suggested donation of $10 before Halloween and $5 on Oct. 31. This year proceeds will go towards Cavanagh’s recovery, which you can learn more about at www.gofundme.com/brendansrecovery.

If you’d like to volunteer visit the Whistler Haunted House Facebook page.

Celebrate Halloween at Tapley’s Farm

Tapley’s Farm is celebrating its 32nd year as the epicentre of Halloween fun in Whistler.

Every year around 800 kids descend upon the neighbourhood for trick-or-treating from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. followed by a fireworks display.

There will be a “park and spook” shuttle from Marketplace to Tapley’s, where parking will be limited. Residents are asking families to bring a donation to the food bank.

Fireworks, meanwhile, will be sponsored by Nesters Market and presented by the Whistler Fire Department at 8 p.m. on the lower playing fields of Myrtle Philip Community School.

Candy collection boxes are set up around town — including at the schools, daycares and supermarkets — and Nesters and IGA are also providing treats.

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