While the inside of a jail cell would be cause for fright under normal circumstances, its conversion into a haunted maze on Sunday offered a much more fun, although still scary, experience.
Thousands attended the return of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Haunted Jailhouse and Carnival, marking the first time it’s been held since 2019. The event, once again done in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, was also the first to be held at the new sheriff’s station on Golden Valley Road.
Matt Nelson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV, said the haunted maze was something the kids at the club had been planning for months – forming ideas about the costumes, makeup, decorations and theme.
“It’s a dark, creepy maze. It’s a real working jailhouse,” said Nelson. “They move the [detainees] out for the weekend, they move them to another station, but our teens take it over. It’s theirs. It’s dark, [has] strobe lights, matte and scary. Actually the theme this year is kind of a ‘hospital gone awry.’ So it’s bloody, it’s creepy. Might be some screaming, there’s been some crying children coming out.”
There were indeed some crying children, who were always consoled by parents or staff (at times even by sheriff’s Capt. Justin Diez himself) but there were also plenty of teens and adults showing signs of fright.
However, this was only half the event. Outside the station was a full-blown (and much less terrifying) Halloween carnival, filled with games, food and drinks, costume contests, and even a kid-led and glam-rock-themed “Elite Dance Studio.”
“It’s really, really fun and important that we have these community events and people get to be together and get to have that collaboration,” said Nelson. “It’s great that our local law enforcement, the sheriff’s station, they’re so open and approachable and created this fun event for the community. It’s [also] a great opportunity for teens to work side by side with the deputies, develop a positive relationship, and be able to work together and have this opportunity.”
Natalie Arriaga, SCV Sheriff’s Station spokeswoman, said these types of events are a great way for the sheriff’s station to do some community engagement.
“It’s our way for our community to get to know us behind the scenes and get to meet people from SWAT, they get to meet people from our command, police, [California Highway Patrol],” said Arriaga. “Out in the field, sometimes you don’t get that chance to talk to people one-on-one. Here, you do get to stop and you get to talk to them.”
While exiting the haunted maze, Ryanne Toohey, there with her slightly distraught toddler, said that although she enjoyed the haunted maze, the carnival was probably less stressful for her child.
“It was good. I like to get scared. I get scared with jump-scares so I had to talk myself through it,” said Toohey. “It was fun though. It was well put together, especially since there was a two-year hiatus.”
Donations made to the event were split between the Boys & Girls Club and the SCV Sheriff’s Foundation, while all proceeds from the carnival games went toward the Boys & Girls Club.