Simply spook-tacular: This San Diego family’s Halloween house may ‘haunt’ your dreams

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SAN DIEGO – Knock on the door and say your prayers. We dare you.

What began as a decorated tent a decade ago in Mira Mesa has evolved into a spooky, must-see attraction on Halloween night. Known as Salem Haunts, staffers at this free haunted house put on by the DeTeresa family are ready to send a chill down the spine of anyone who comes knocking.

Take the butcher room, for example, where daring trick-or-treaters must navigate a series of bloody knives, hooks and severed appendages. If they make it, a bounty of candy awaits.

Year after year, creating a night of fun and fright is its own treat, co-founder Ethel DeTeresa said.

“I know the other houses around here have awesome displays,” she said. “I don’t discredit that. But you actually have to survive the maze to get the candy in my house.”

The attraction on New Salem Circle continues to expand its frightening footprint with each passing year.

“It started with one tent,” Richard DeTeresa said. “Then the next year, it was like, ‘Let’s do a second tent. Hey, let’s do a fourth.’ And we had our friends say, ‘I want to do a tent.’ It’s kind of grown into this.”

A few years back, Ethel started telling everybody, “We’ve got to hit 10 (years).”

“I don’t care if we stop doing it after 10,” she said. “I really, really wanted to hit 10.”

They’re firmly crossing the 10-year mark this weekend with a front yard transformed into a full-scale haunted house. In fact, it’s bigger than ever this year after the pandemic saw decorations scaled down last year. That was disappointing, Ethel said, but plenty of excitement lies ahead for the coming weekend.

Without giving away any secrets, Richard said Salem Haunts will feature a butcher this year who will be “cutting up bodies” with a couple of other little scares for visitors along the way.

“It’s a gory way to end the haunt,” he said.

If you go

  • What: Salem Haunts Mira Mesa
  • Where: 10908 New Salem Circle in San Diego;
  • When: Sunday, Oct. 31 starting at sundown;
  • Contact: salemhauntsmiramesa.com

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