Nightmare at Beaver Lake relies on dedicated team to create serious scares

October 25, 2011

Marek Kossik, 14, an Eastside Catholic High School student, has zombie face paint applied by Nightmare on Beaver Lake volunteer Kelly Davis before the Oct. 21 haunt. By Greg Farrar

The blood run occurs in a deep forest moments before 8 o’clock on nights leading to Halloween.

Dawn Gonser, lead makeup artist for Nightmare at Beaver Lake, dispenses a crimson liquid to ghouls stationed along a path through Beaver Lake Park.

The distinction between blood types is important. The other type is a goo used to create fresh scabs. The stage blood Gonser races across Beaver Lake Park to squirt into actors’ mouths is a nontoxic liquid similar in taste to mint-flavored mouthwash.

The last-minute touch-up increases the creep factor as actors prepare to scare attendees in horror-film fashion.

Gonser, a longtime Nightmare at Beaver Lake organizer, is part of a close-knit team skilled at scaring.

“It gets into your blood and you keep coming back year after year,” she said.

Nightmare at Beaver Lake is the largest Halloween haunt in the Puget Sound region and, perhaps, in the West.

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Nightmare at Beaver Lake / October 2011

October 21, 2011

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Nightmare at Beaver Lake taps phobias for Halloween scares

October 18, 2011

Nightmare at Beaver Lake taps phobias for Halloween scares

Dana Young stands next to the optical illusion of a skull and a mirror to double the effect, in a haunt at Nightmare at Beaver Lake. By Greg Farrar

Some people flinch at spiders. Others cower from needles. Clowns send others into a panic.

Nightmare at Beaver Lake taps into the most common phobias — and some not-so-common fears — to scare the estimated 10,000 people expected to embark on a fear-fueled trek through a dense Sammamish Plateau forest.

“It’s death. It’s needles. It’s the dark. It’s spiders. It’s clowns,” said Norm Bottenberg, a Rotary Club of Sammamish past president and Nightmare at Beaver Lake volunteer.

The setup — not just a mere haunted house, but a forested trail and 8,000 square feet inside buildings and pavilions — is the largest Halloween haunt in the Puget Sound region and, perhaps, in the West.

“It’s a long, dark walk into the woods — with monsters,” Dana Young, Scare Productions secretary and a lead Nightmare at Beaver Lake organizer, added during a stroll through the uncompleted sets.

Scare Productions and the Rotary Club of Sammamish partner to produce the annual haunt. The community organization uses funds from admission fees for scholarships, polio eradication and other causes.

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‘Friday the 13th’ ghoul to haunt Nightmare at Beaver Lake festivities

October 18, 2011

Jason Voorhees stalks the forest on the Sammamish Plateau.

C.J. Graham — the title star in “Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI” — is due to appear Oct. 28-29 during Nightmare at Beaver Lake.

Jason Voorhees

C.J. Graham

“Most people, if you say the word Jason and ‘Friday the 13th,’ they may not know you personally, but they know the character,” he said in a recent interview. “I am blown away by the cult following that still exists.”

“Friday the 13th” producers selected the former nightclub owner in part due to his stature. Graham stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall.

“They felt very confident with my physical structure and my physical abilities that I’d been fine as a stunt man and doing the burns and all of the different stunts that came with it,” he said.

The actor researched the slasher-film genre before accepting the 1986 role as a superhuman serial killer.

“I didn’t really know the series well until I was asked to come interview for the series,” Graham said. “I actually had to go back and do some review of my own to watch a couple of the prior films to make sure I understood the character that I was trying to portray.”

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Spooky Events

October 26, 2010

Things That Go Bump in the Night, presented by Auburn Paranormal Activities Research Team, for ages 12 and up, 5 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Issaquah Library, 10 W. Sunset Way. Call 392-5430.

Fall Fun Fest is from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Issaquah Youth Center in the community center. Fee is $2. Wear a costume and come enjoy activity booths, toddler time toys, face painting and prizes.

The Grange Supply’s first Pet Halloween Party is Oct. 30. A pet costume contest, with prizes, is at noon. Guess the weight of the big pumpkin and win a $50 gift card for you and a $50 gift card to your favorite charity. A photographer will be available from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Learn more at Read more

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Event of the Month

October 26, 2010

Nightmare at Beaver Lake

Nightmare at Beaver Lake

If you are looking for a good scare this October, try Nightmare at Beaver Lake. Family Hour is from 7-8 p.m. and Full Fright is from 8-10 p.m. (8-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday). Admission is $12, or $15 on Friday and Saturday. Bring a can of food to save $1 on your ticket. Proceeds will be donated toward community service and humanitarian projects designated by the Sammamish Rotary Club. Check out for directions and more information.

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Paranormal activity: Nightmare at Beaver Lake ups the scare factor

October 5, 2010

Dana Young, Curt Madden and Chris Shea (from left) work on the spinning vortex set for this year’s Nightmare at Beaver Lake. By Christopher Huber

For Dana Young, Curt Madden and Chris Shea, it’s all about the scare.

The trio from Scare Productions, which puts on the annual Nightmare at Beaver Lake, spend months before the mid-October haunt in Sammamish, scheming, recruiting actors, and building and designing sets to optimize the Halloween experience for thousands of area residents who flock to the event.

“We get paid in screams,” Young said as the three recently built the roof for the spinning vortex at Beaver Lake Park.

The seventh annual Nightmare opens Oct. 19 and will feature about 120 actors aiming to scare, startle and frighten anyone who dares to take a stroll through the 85-acre park.

“Hopefully we’ll get someone to throw up,” said Madden, Scare Productions president.

Scare Productions does receive actual compensation, but the majority of ticket proceeds benefits the Sammamish Rotary Club and its variety of scholarship funds and local and international giving programs.

Nightmare at Beaver Lake will highlight similar features this year as in past years, such as ornery orcs launching fireballs from a trebuchet and various dreary and creepy settings. This time, it will be a little more interactive.

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Off the Press

September 21, 2010

Tim Pfarr Press reporter

It’s lovely weather for a hayride with you

Zip up your coat. Turn on the windshield wipers. Put the cover back on the barbecue. The wind and rain are back.

If this makes you sad, you should really cheer up; Oprah’s favorite things come during the holiday season, but mine come during fall, and the season officially starts Sept. 23.

Of course, I should tell you that nobody reading this article will receive a free car or a trip to Australia. Sorry, but Oprah is loaded, and I’m not.

The first great thing about fall is the color, and with all the deciduous trees we have in town, there is no shortage of red and orange leaves gusting through the air on a blustery day. Also, glue some dead leaves together and you’ve even got yourself a new coat. Read more

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Teen suspected in ‘Nightmare’ arson

October 27, 2009

Dana Young was the one who carved the Styrofoam rock, painted it and dressed it for the not-so-cowardly lion set. She estimated $1,000 worth of labor and materials went into that set piece for Nightmare at Beaver Lake. Read more

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Nightmare at Beaver Lake haunt gets a medieval theme

October 15, 2008


Anyone who has ever been to the Nightmare at Beaver Lake during the Halloween season probably had quite a thrill. 

This year, they should prepare to be chased by vampire brides and spooked


An actress forbids guests from entering her castle at the 2006 Nightmare at Beaver Lake.

An actress forbids guests from entering her castle at the 2006 Nightmare at Beaver the wolf lurking in the dark woods of Beaver Lake Park. One of the largest “haunt” productions in the area, Nightmare at Beaver Lake is set to run from Oct. 24-31.


The fifth annual “haunt” at Beaver Lake Park is the fruit of volunteer labor from more than 100 people, said Rotary Club of Sammamish volunteer coordinator Del Goehner. Planning began in March.

The idea of Nightmare at Beaver Lake is to create a large community event that gets area youths involved in the production process, event co-chair Dana Young said. The goal is to appeal to everyone, regardless of age or physical ability, as well as send all the proceeds to local charities and scholarships.

Upon arriving at the Beaver Lake Park ball fields, visitors will meander throughout a 3/4-mile outdoor and indoor course filled with suspense and surprise on a medieval-fairy tale theme. Roughly 60 volunteer actors will make each nigh Read more

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