Closing the crypt
MEDFORD — It's taken volunteers more than six weekends to get ready for a massive yard sale at a popular haunted house, but Darkwing Manor cast members say they worked far longer every year for a decade preparing to spook the locals.
After 10 Halloween seasons over a dozen years, The award-winning Darkwing Manor closed its doors to the public in 2014, doomed that season by weather and parking restrictions.
Offering the public a chance to grab some keepsakes or amass some quality haunting supplies of their own, the owners of Darkwing Manor will liquidate the vast collection of props and many scenes at a final sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 11 and 12 at 4192 Coleman Creek Road.
The sale will boast more than 30 years' accumulation of items including sets, crypts, fencing, animatronics, lighting, foggers, tombstones and masks.
Your grandmother's yard sale this is not.
All told, Tim and Tina Reuwsaat anticipate 800-1,000 items for sale, ranging from creepy zombie babies and coffins to freaky masks and corn maze supplies. A number of vintage and antique items will be available — save for personalized tombstones and a cursed hearse they plan to keep — while the largest items, including a circa 1880 horse-drawn hearse and a custom-designed '76 Cadillac hearse limo will be available for viewing; those items are being auctioned on eBay.
The couple encourage sale-goers to bring trailers and boxes to haul away their finds and to carpool if possible, because the parking situation has not improved.
The two-story Victorian mansion was an immediate draw for the Reuwsaats, who moved to Oregon in 2002 and had always made a family tradition of haunting with their two sons.
The couple bought the 1908 orchard home and haunted the house and sprawling grounds for all but two years — once after the death of one of their sons and once while Tim Reuwsaat battled cancer — attracting 2,000 to 4,000 visitors most years.
Tim Reuwsaat said he was thankful for tolerant neighbors — "absolute saints" — who provided parking in a hay field. But in recent years, heavy rain haunting meant parking crews were forced to push cars out of the field through knee-deep mud.
The haunt benefited a handful of charities that work with children, including Children's Advocacy Center and CASA.
"I would say the best part of the haunt, other than being able to raise money for the kids for charity, were all the friends we made and the families we got to know," Tina Reuwsaat said.
Tim Reuwsaat agreed. "Becoming close friends with people from such a variety of backgrounds that we would have never had the opportunity to probably meet otherwise," he said.
Medford resident Ms. E. "Missy" Berliner, is a neighbor who helped run the haunt from the beginning, under the nickname "Badger." She said most of the haunters are unsure about how to spend Halloween without Darkwing.
Haunters began planning each summer, in July and August.
Berliner said she misses the whole experience haunters got each year, from "anxiety that used to build around the end of July" to "the night before opening with no sleep and being out all night trying to get things finished" to "the thrill of scaring people" and "the camaraderie of the staff room full of tired but happy cast people on haunt night."
Longtime haunter Jace Pike, 24, who played the role of Darkwing's werewolf beginning in his high school days, said the haunt offered more fun than he could imagine most people having for Halloween, and it gave him a sense of belonging.
Pike's mother and sister participated as well, just three of nearly 100 volunteers each year.
"I think what was so unique about it was it was just a bunch of families that came in and became like this one strong little family," Pike said.
And for a lot of the kids who grew up working the haunt, most of them in middle school or high school, which is a tough time, it was a nice support system," he said. "You never felt weird at Darkwing because everybody was weird."
Pike added, "I know we're all probably still holding out thinking Tim and Tina will still change their minds, but all good things come to an end ... it was really a great run and something to be proud of being a part of."
For sale details, go to facebook.com/darkwingmanor or call 541-613-4964.
—Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at email@example.com.