When Mike Hermosillo was a young boy, he always looked forward to Halloween night, and trick-or-treating with family and friends.
Knocking on doors and getting all kinds of candy was great, but there was always something more alluring to the night.
Something more sinister, eerie, dreadful — and yet strangely exciting.
“We would ask our parents to take us to that one, good haunted house,” Hermosillo recalls. “It was the one that stood out from all the rest. You could see it from far away — all the way down the street.”
So it was only supernatural that Hermosillo wanted “that house” when he grew up and bought his own family home on the corner of 27th Street and Hawthorne Avenue in Merced.
He was predetermined to make it the most creepy, ghastly, and spine-chilling on the block for Halloween.
With the help of his wife, Brenda, the witchcraft and wizardry started out with your typical jack-o’-lanterns and skeletons. However, after the fall season of 2011, the Hermosillos decided to go big.
The local Spirit Halloween Store was having a 50-percent-off sale, so they walked in and spent $500. They also started a family tradition.
“I kept telling myself everything is for the next year,” Mike Hermosillo explains, “and every year we added more props.”
Over the years, he estimates they have spent between $6,000 and $7,000 on spooky objects, including larger-than-life demonic clowns, goblins and spiders. He also added creepy special effect lighting, sounds and even fog. One year, the Hermosillos grew real corn stalks in a side yard, and made visitors walk through them to get to the monster that was handing out candy. Later, Mike Hermosillo spiked that idea because the corn stalks were a “nightmare to get rid of.”
Nevertheless, these wicked investments have paid off. Anywhere from 500 to 700 people have showed up to their haunted house on Halloween night in recent years. They keep track by the amount of candy they hand out, which by the way, has to be rationed over the course of the evening.
“I call it the best free show in town,” Hermosillo says.
And if you’re wondering, the Mercedian is already planning for next year when he plans to extend the macabre on 27th Street to a side yard of the haunted house.
“This year’s event is only a trial run for next Halloween when we are going to go all out,” he says. “It won’t be a school night like this year. The night will fall on a weekend, so the kids will be able to stay out longer.”
Even more time to scare the daylights out of them — all in good fun, of course …