Old Town Haunt

Oct 5, 2012

It’s October, so down to the tunnels you go.

October 5th is the opening night for Pasadena’s Old Town Haunt.

Come follow the trail of the catacombs, the same catacombs where in 1929, as a consequence of a street-widening project, twelve residents were found, deceased, their bodies “hideously torn apart.”

The history of this site is creepy and gets creepier. Old Town Haunt owners Ron Roggè, Mark Williams, and Jason Thompson prefer it that way, though Roggè says his idea of the best scare is when it’s followed by laughter.

More than 20 volunteers (a handful of them addicted enthusiasts who return every year) will be dressed in costume and “manning” their stations to attend to those who dare make their way through the constricting tunnels with nary a light and an abundance of frights.

Editor’s Note: I accompanied my 14-year-old daughter to a meeting for volunteers as she will be getting community service hours for frightening the heck out of people (a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to a local charity).

Roggè took five willing victims at a time down a narrow, stone, damp stairway, and then they disappeared into the tunnels. My daughter emerged through an alleyway door fifteen minutes later, saying she screamed and laughed all the way through. I stepped forward, hesitated, gulped a few times, then caught on to the tail end of a group of young kids. Let me clarify: I love Halloween. I love the concept of it and the idea of scaring people and being scared. The concept, more than the reality.

I stumbled along, trying to keep track of the young man ahead of me. With only half of the lighting rigged at this time, I often couldn’t see his white t-shirt—even though it was mere inches from me. Of course, I couldn’t—and didn’t—miss the “thing” that soundlessly sidled up beside me, mute and lurking before it stepped right up to the back of the young man,…and then seemingly melted into the wall.

Luckily, my savior turned to me and said, “You can hold onto my shirt if you want to,” just as he clung to the friend in front of him. Being at least three decades older than he, this option felt rather foolish, but I shall admit to keeping my fingers close to the back of his shirt, brushing the fabric reassuringly at moments of slight panic, and yes, grabbing hold a couple of times, especially as my claustrophobia kicked in and my fear quotient ratcheted up several notches.

With the addition of mood lighting, more staff, and music—which shall be completed by Friday—I unreservedly recommend Old Town Haunt to all who get a thrill out of being scared beyond belief. As for me, I am “one and done,” as the saying goes. My nerves are shot.

Anyone interested in volunteering can email Ron Roggè at

Pasadena’s Old Town Haunt
Days and times vary from Thurs.-Sun., 6 p.m.-midnight; check calendar for complete details
20 N. Raymond Ave., just north of Colorado Blvd.
Tickets: General Admission, $15; VIP Fast Pass, $20
For complete info, visit



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