Children line up for the annual Haunted Jailhouse hosted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

Haunted Jailhouse celebrates with family-friendly frights

For 364 days of the year, the inside of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station is not the place anyone wants to be. But for one day each year, the station and the SCV Boys & Girls Club partner to transform the station into the Haunted Jailhouse, and families descended upon the station Sunday for a frightfully good time.

“What’s really cool about this event is that we have people who came as kids and now they’re back bringing their own kids to experience it, and we have new teens who want to join the club just so they can work this event,” said Matt Nelson, CEO of the SCV chapter of the Boys & Girls Club. “This event is a fundraiser for us; but more importantly, it’s a leadership opportunity for our teens to develop soft skills like collaborating with people from different backgrounds that they don’t get to practice a lot these days.”

Capt. Robert Lewis was at the station for the first Haunted Jailhouse, and said l he’s glad it’s become such a big opportunity for the sheriff’s deputies to engage the community.

“For me, it’s all about showing the community that we do things other than just public safety,” Lewis said. “This is a friendly atmosphere, and it’s getting bigger each year because I think the public realizes that it’s a safe environment and that we’re here to help them. My favorite part is the parents and kids who come out in costume each year to enter the costume contest and seeing how much it means to them.”

The theme of this year’s haunted jailhouse maze was phobias and explored different fears like clowns, death, claustrophobia and the trypophobia. For attendees who were not in the mood for a scare, the event also offered a rock wall, costume contests and law enforcement vehicles to explore, as well as booths for games and vendors like Best Buy, Six Flags, Starbucks and the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

Judging this year’s costume contests were special guests Mayor Marsha McLean, Assemblywoman Christy Smith and Santa Clarita Boys & Girls Club board member  Ann-Marie Bjorkman.

“It was so hard to be the judges this year because there are so many innovative, creative  costumes and you want to give a prize to everybody,” Smith said. “I love the interaction between the community and the sheriff department because it teaches them that this is a safe place and that the deputies are real people who they should respect. This week in particular, it’s important to have this event because we’ve had the stress of the fires, and now that those have died down and many people are back in their homes, it’s important to have a day for families to enjoy being together.”

Jessica and Christian Perez attended the Haunted Jailhouse for the first time with their two children Angelique and Christopher and said they enjoyed all the games and vendors.

“This event is really fun because it connects us to the sheriff’s station, which is a really good relationship to have because they do so much for us,” Jessica said. “With everything going on including the fires and the things happening politically, this event does a good job of bringing us together as a melting pot. Everyone has fun and it helps build community relationships.”

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