To many in the community, Halloween is synonymous with James Day’s Haunted Woods – a hotly-anticipated spooky season staple that keeps growing year after year. Day and his crew impressed once again for the 18th edition of the event, drawing in thousands of Halloween fans of all ages and backgrounds over four days.
“We involved all the kids of the community. I don’t care where the kids come from,” said James Day, organizer of the event.
Although there is no fee to attend, participants are encouraged to contribute either cash or non-perishable food items for the Orville Standup Memorial Kateri Food Basket.
This year, the community raised $3,138.91 and filled an enclosed trailer with non-perishable food items, according to Day.
“Any money donated goes right to the cause, and we don’t take nothing. We just want to help,” said Day.
With nearly 40 actors roaming around the woods and frightening attendees, some of the key attractions included a witches’ coven, a church in the woods, a Sleepy Hollow bridge, multiple maze rooms, a rendition of Michael Myers’ house from the movie Halloween, and more.
“The siding on Myers’ house is actually from a funeral home in Kahnawake, so it’s actually haunted. A lot of actors will get out of here by 9 p.m. because you hear a lot of noises. (You see) a lot of orbs. You get a lot of chills. You feel breathing,” said Kevin Goose Lahache, who has played Michael Myers every year since 2005 and helps Day with the setup.
“I keep the line entertained,” said another actor, Ocean Lahache, donning a white ghost mask and chasing visitors out of the woods with a toy chainsaw.
“The event is really important because every time we get donations either from food or money, we all put it towards charity. It’s a good cause to come here and get scared.”
Guests, many of whom came with their families, left the Haunted Woods with a sense of amazement. “I think they totally outdid themselves. I’ve been to this many times. This was one of the best they’ve ever had. Our whole group was scared out of their minds. The kids are freaking out,” said Neil McComber, who has attended the event every year since its inception.
“I think that James Day’s Haunted Woods is one of those staples of Halloween in Kahnawake, and I just think that it’s something that puts (Kahnawake) on the map for Halloween.”
The Haunted Woods is a family affair. Among Day’s large team of volunteers were his mother, Allison McGregor, and his sister, Megan Day, who greeted guests, handed out treats, and organized donations.
“My house has always been for the children, and my son decided with his cousin that he was going to build something in the back for everybody so that everybody would stay off the streets and have someplace to go where there’s no drinking, no drugs, no nothing but just have a really, really good time,” said McGregor, who has been hosting the festivities on her property since day one.
McGregor also helps with organizing and ensuring participants return home safely. “For the past 18 years, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and I get more and more monsters every year.”