‘Graveside Manor’ still a spooky and scary Halloween destination

Courtesy photo Out of the fog that is plentiful at Graveside Manor comes a knife-wielding character, who waits until the last minute to decide which visitor he will approach.

NASHUA – Kathy Thomas, hostess of the annual Halloween season must-see haunt “Graveside Manor,” which each October converts her Foxboro Street property into the infamous “Dr. Barlow’s hospital for the criminally insane,” called last week’s opening show “an amazing night.”

For one, the season debut raised more than $2,500 for Make-A-Wish New Hampshire, an amazing fete by any measure for such an event.

But also amazing was the opening night turnout – so amazing, in fact, that the vehicles delivering eager Graveside Manor visitors inadvertently gridlocked the neighborhood streets, creating backups that some people said stretched up and down Broad Street.

“We certainly weren’t expecting” that kind of traffic, Thomas wrote in a Facebook post a couple of days later. “Nor did we have any control over the amount of cars that came to opening night.”

So she and members of her crew, who bring to the table everything from expertise with makeup, scene-settings, electronic effects, authentic-looking props and how to bring long-dead creatures back to life, all went to work to come up with the best way to alleviate future traffic issues.

Among the solutions are stationing volunteers at strategic locations to direct traffic, making sure to keep the lines of cars moving, slow enough, of course, so everyone can get a good look and a few good scares, but without stopping.

The pandemic, not surprisingly, fits into the equation as well: In past years, the setup was designed as a walk-through haunted experience, with plenty of things to see – or in some cases, avoid – along the way.

But this year, after quickly scrapping the idea of canceling this year’s Graveside Manor, Thomas and her crew decided on a drive-through format, encouraging visitors to drive by slow enough to give the ghoulish characters time to instill a few good scares – while practicing proper social distancing, of course.

“We had to make some adjustments, but we love doing it,” Thomas said of the choice to go ahead with the show.

Best of all, she said, are visitors’ generous donations to Make-A-Wish New Hampshire, the charity Thomas and her crew chose after a couple of years donating to a puppy-rescue organization.

A donation station is set up for each show for visitors who wish to contribute to the cause.

See accompanying information box for times and other details.

Meanwhile, Thomas said she credits not only her band of volunteers for Graveside Manor’s success, but offers of help from others as well.

She said she’s especially grateful to another Nashua haunt experience – Fright Kingdom, at 12 Simon St. – for helping her out over the years.

“Tim sort of took me under his wing, he’s helped me a lot,” Thomas said, referring to Tim Dunne, the owner and “master haunt creator” of Fright Kingdom.

Like Graveside Manor, Fright Kingdom made the necessary pandemic-related adjustments so that it could open this year.

One adjustment is the adoption of an online reservation system, according to its Website. Fright Kingdom is open from 7-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23-24 and Oct. 30-31, plus Sunday, Oct. 25, from 7-10 p.m.

For more information, go to www.frightkingdom.com.