By Joel Hall
From now until Oct. 31, the Clayton Center will scare the living daylights out of people, all for a good cause, of course.
The Clayton Center's haunted house will take place nightly until Halloween, from 7-10 p.m., in Riverdale, at the Flint River Center, located at 6315 Garden Walk Blvd., near the Southern Regional Medical Center.
All proceeds from the $6 admission fee will go to funding the center's programs for assisting people with developmental disabilities, addictive diseases, and mental health issues.
Elaine Stevens, motor vehicle manager for the Clayton Center, started doing the haunted house more than 20 years ago as a social gathering for people enrolled in the county's Community Support Services program. She said this is the second year the event has been done as a fund-raiser for the Clayton Center.
Last year, the intricate, walk-through house of horrors included a mad scientist, a spooky graveyard, and a butcher's shop with vacuum-sealed body parts. This year, it will include a new dungeon scene, evil clowns, and maniacs wielding chain saws.
"We're just trying to make it bigger and better," said Stevens. "Every year, we want to try to include one new scene."
Stevens said the haunted house allows the public to learn more about the programs the Clayton Center provides, as well as gives participants of the Clayton Center's programs a chance to participate in activities other people enjoy.
"We always push normalization with our consumers," said Stevens. "We want them to be able to enjoy things other people their age enjoy. We're getting them out and letting them experience the same types of things that other people experience.
"I think it gives the community the opportunity to realize that there are people in our community with disabilities and they don't always have the funds to get the help they need," Stevens continued. "It gives the community a chance to get involved."
Clay Stevens, Elaine Steven's son and a cage fighter in training, will be playing one of the evil clowns. He said he likes the haunted house because the kids at the Clayton Center get to "feel like every other kid."
"We do it out of the kindness of our hearts," said the younger Stevens. "We don't get paid to do it; we just like doing it. They get the enjoyment of being scared."