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WOOD RIVER - The legacy of the Mason Mansion Haunted House continues this year with the family’s fourth generation taking the reins.
From 6–8 p.m. on Oct. 30 and 31, 2023, you can stop by the Mason house at 575 5th Street in Wood River for a spooky walk through a Halloween haunted house, built by the family over the course of six months. After Nick Mason’s passing in 2021, Julie Mason and her four sons — Nick Jr., Noah, Jackson and Jace — have decided to continue the tradition started by her husband’s family so many years ago.
“It started with our great-grandfather Bob. Our grandfather Harry carried it on, and then our dad turned it into a big thing in Wood River whenever he moved into the house with our mother. And now we’re just picking it up after him,” Nick Jr. said. “It’s all about the community that we build during it. Just getting everybody together. There’s not a person who isn’t a part of it. And that just feels really centering, you know?”
Hanging in the Mason home is a picture of Nick Sr. and the boys, working together to build the haunted house. Julie explained that Harry passed away shortly before Halloween 2021, and Nick Sr. passed four weeks later. The family skipped the haunted house last year, but when summer rolled around this year, they decided it was time to start building.
“[Harry and Nick] were the heart and soul of the haunted house,” Julie said. “It was great when Harry and Nick were here and were able to work with the kids. But the kids are working so well together and bringing in family and friends and neighbors, and it’s great to see the whole community getting together to help us get this done this year…We are honoring both Nick and Harry this Halloween.”
Nick Jr. explained that his father was the one who made the haunted house as big as it is today. They usually average more than 2,000 visitors over the two nights, and every year has a different layout and theme. No spoilers, but the family promises it’s scary.
They encourage people who are photosensitive or don’t want the full haunted house experience to stop by at 5:30 p.m. either night for a walkthrough. The boys will work with you to adjust the effects and scare level as needed so you can still enjoy the Halloween spirit.
The experience is completely free, though donations are encouraged. This year, donations will go toward the Scroggins family in Wood River. Julie explained that Steve Scroggins, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, is “so dedicated to the Wood River community.” Another family will match donations up to $500.
The Masons do what they can to help neighbors like the Scroggins. After all, they know firsthand how much that support can mean. In the two years following Nick Sr.’s passing, a scholarship and several awards have been named for him. Wood River has rallied around Julie and the boys to help with the haunted house; Nick Jr. said it has been “almost therapeutic” to be creating the haunted house again with so much support.
“Dad just kept on with the idea that Grandpa had and involved us and involved everybody in the community. It just grew and grew after that,” he said. “A lot of people knew the effort he put into the community and into the haunt, as well, which gave other people opportunities somewhere else.”
The family is determined to pay it forward, and they’ll have a lot of fun while they’re at it. With several scarers from the high school’s theater program and lots of props collected over the decades, the haunted house is sure to spook. The Mason Mansion Haunted House runs from 6–8 p.m. on Oct. 30 and 31, 2023 at 575 5th Street in Wood River; check out the Mason Mansion Haunted House Facebook page for more information. The nine-room attraction takes about five minutes to walk through — or less, depending on how scared you are.
“We’ll have a great time,” Nick Jr. promised. “Come inside, probably pee your pants. We’ll see you after if you don’t. We appreciate everybody who ends up coming out, and if you don’t, catch us next year. We’ll be there.”
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