The Bayville Fire Company's annual haunted house fundraiser, which scared up more than $100,000 for a new ambulance and drew thousands of visitors last fall, has been canceled for this year, organizers say, a victim of superstorm Sandy.
Officials dropped this year's nonprofit event because water flooded the firehouse basement, wrecking the props and equipment responsible for more than two decades of frightful fun. And, officials said, it's unclear if the 11-room haunted house will reopen.
Mayor Douglas Watson said losing the haunted house, which brought customers to local businesses and people together, would be felt by the whole village.
"Over many years it brought the community together because it was the community people that actually had to man the ticket booths and had to be the characters in the situations that made it a haunted house," he said.
The attraction also helped fill the village's eateries, Vincent Moscato, Bayville Chamber of Commerce chief, said.
"It brought a lot of people from all over to Bayville," Moscato said. "They'd go to the restaurants over there" and stay for the evening.
After the firehouse on Aug. 20 announced the cancellation on its Facebook page, more than two dozen people posted their disappointment.
In the flood, "everything was destroyed," said firefighter Henry Encarnacion -- animated figures, walls and pneumatic equipment that was assembled in the basement each fall.
"With mold and everything, everything had to be ripped out and sanitized," said Encarnacion, who had been involved with the haunted house since it began in the early 1990s.
The fire company hasn't yet decided how to spend insurance funds it has received for all its Sandy damage, including that done to trucks, officials said Wednesday. But firefighters decided it was too much work to restore the haunted house and voted to cancel it, he said.
"At this point I'm not sure whether we're going to do it again," Encarnacion said.
Over the years, the event held on several weekends leading up to Halloween was so successful that it paid for a new ambulance that cost more than $100,000, Encarnacion said. Last year, even without being open on Halloween and the Sunday before Sandy hit, the house had about 6,000 visitors who paid $13 each, he said.
In 2012, the house raised about $80,000, and cost about $30,000 to put on, officials said yesterday. In 2011, it took in $82,884 and cost $37,456 to hold, a net of $45,428, federal tax filings show.
Visitors had "a chance to see Bayville and possibly want to come back," Moscato said. So losing the haunted house is "going to be a hit."
Revenue in 2011: $82,884
Expenses in 2011: $37,456
Net revenue in 2011: $45,428
Number of visitors
in 2012: About 6,000
Cost of entry: $13/per person
Sources: 990 tax filing,
Firefighter Henry Encarnacion