Oct 19, 2011
BY SUSAN VARGHESE
Standard Associate Editor
Nestled at 187 Wanser Avenue in Inwood is a spooky house covered with cobwebs, skeletons and fake blood. Tombstones envelop the home, and in the driveway lies a haunted 1968 Cadillac hearse with a skeleton lounging in the driver’s seat.
Warren Martz is unaffected by the eerie decorations — he’s been designing his haunted home for Halloween for the past five years. “We built this house five years ago and we thought, ‘Now we live in a nice house, lets decorate it,’” Martz said.
Martz has been living in The Five Towns since he was five years old. He noted that he’s stayed here for the past 35 years because of the accessibility. “Everything’s available here; you can get to the city and the beach. You can get in your car and within 45 minutes, you can be almost anywhere you want.”
Martz starts decorating in August in preparation for Halloween. “Every year it gets bigger. The kids come here, the police close the streets down, and it’s about 1500 to 2000 people …the line goes three houses down,” Martz said. “The street is almost a carnival atmosphere. Kids are screaming, some are crying, parents are laughing, and the other houses don’t even decorate — they just come to our house.”
He does the decorating mostly by himself and doesn’t finish until the Sunday before Halloween. Nobody is allowed inside his home; instead he builds a walk through with four rooms on his driveway with about 25 actors. Although his wife and kids help him take the decorations down after Halloween, Martz noted that he doesn’t usually want much help other than that.
“They know I’m a perfectionist. At this point, I’m way out of the league counting how much I’ve spent…I bought a 1968 Cadillac Hearse for the driveway,” Martz said. “It’s an addiction decorating. I’ve driven 400 miles to get rusty cemetery gates. I’ve gotten driftwood from upstate because it looked eerie. I’ve had props made in California and shipped to me.”
His son, Kevin, a Lawrence High School student, noted that the decorations still haven’t lost their cool. “The kids at school talk about it a lot. It’s def a big deal around here. He [my dad] never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes there’s a two to three hour line at the beginning of Halloween.”
This year’s Halloween is a little different than the rest, though, Martz noted. Going through the walk through will cost $1 in an effort to help a friend in need. His friend’s wife, Vivian Castro of Bayshore, was diagnosed with breast cancer. “She’s just that person — she would go out of her way to help others. You could spend all day talking to. To see her in the condition she is now…you couldn’t not help her.”
Castro who was going to get one breast removed, was told that there was a high possibility that the cancer would return to the other breast. She’s determined to have both removed, but Medicaid will only cover the removal of the cancerous breast and partial reconstructive surgery, but won’t cover the removal of the other. “I’m not going through chemo again,” Castro said. “It’s the worst thing in the world, I don’t care what anyone says, it was horrible for me. After every chemo, I spent 10 days in my bed exhausted. Take them both!” She joked.
In the middle of all of this, Castro’s husband lost his job after the motorcycle dealership he worked at closed down. But, Castro with brimming optimism won’t let it get her down. “I’ve had so many bad things happen, that at this point I don’t let it bother me. If I can’t fix it, I don’t stress it. I have three kids.
You know what I’m, still alive. We’ll make it. “
To help Castro’s cause, extra donations will be accepted at The Haunted Driveway. The driveway will be open 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. on Halloween night. On weekends throughout October, people can visit the house, but the driveway and walk-through won’t be open until Halloween. Martz noted that they occasionally do random scares to visitors before Halloween. ghostofinwood.webs.com.
Filed Under: First Person
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