Haunting time to be had

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle
John Duval runs Starky’s Haunted House at 1313 Waldhauser St. He converted an old cattle slaughterhouse into the haunted house for Halloween. Proceeds are going to youth sports teams.

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Eeriness oozes from the old building — even without all the props and hands that reach toward you from hidden nooks.

For Halloween, John Duval has turned the building at 1313 Waldhauser St. into a haunted house. He didn’t have to do much.

The two-story, gray building was once a cattle slaughterhouse. It sits abandoned, a few feet from criss-crossing railroad tracks, a strange smell clinging to it. Black birds stare mutely from nearby, knobby tree branches and wind sweeps through surrounding fields.

Rumors persist that cult members congregated there and someone hung themselves upstairs, Duval said.

“When I cleaned this place up, I was scared to death — the sounds, the smell, the birds,” Duval said.

Duval and a gang of 20 mostly teenage volunteers run the haunted house. Through slits in a wall of plastic wrap, they reach toward passers-by. In ragged costumes, they trail them and howl.

So far, approximately 2,000 people have toured the haunted house, named Starky’s after the building’s owner, Duval said.

A Clovis native, Duval ran a haunted house in downtown Clovis almost 20 years ago. He decided to do so again to give young people in Clovis, and his three daughters, the oldest 15, something to do.

“When I was growing up here, we didn’t have much to do — we dragged Main Street,” Duval said.

Duval said his daughters coaxed him through the creation of the haunted house.
“I didn’t want to make it too cheesy, as my daughter would say. And I didn’t want to make it too scary for young kids,” he said.

Clovis resident Rhonda Romero is a volunteer at Starky’s. She mans the entrance and occasionally reassures those who are too scared to enter the building, she said.
The haunted house “gives kids something to do,” she said.

“I think it’s awesome,” Romero said.

Admission to Starky’s Haunted House is $5 for adults and $3 for children under the age of 9. The house will be open 6-11 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday.

According to Duval, a portion of proceeds from the house will go to local youth sports teams.