Those looking for some spooky, but family friendly fun this Saturday need look no further than the historic Anchorage in Harmar.
For the second year, the towering mansion will be the backdrop for a Halloween costume party sponsored by the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghosthunters and the Washington County Historical Society.
"The Anchorage is going to be the best place to go this weekend. It's fun for everybody," said Valerie Wright, secretary for the Mid-Ohio Valley Ghosthunters.
Wright and a crew have been busy all week setting up a haunted house on the spacious second floor and decorating the ground level for a costume party which will feature music, food, candy and of course, a costume contest.
The group has made some changes to the haunted house this year, said Tom Moore, a founding member of the MOV Ghosthunters.
"Last year there were some animatronics. This year we have a lot of new stuff and some people in different rooms who might step out and startle some people," he said.
If you go
Anchorage Halloween Costume Party
When: 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday.
Where: The Anchorage (enter via George Street) .
What: A Halloween costume party and haunted house.
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under.
At a glance
Mid-Ohio Valley Ghosthunters Anchorage Ghost Hunt
When: Following the costume party from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
What: The house quiets down and opens up for a ghost hunt.
Cost: $15 per person.
Source: Mid-Ohio Valley Ghosthunters and The Washington County Historical Society.
Still, even the haunted house is mild enough for younger children, said Wright.
"And if we know kids are coming up, we'll tone it down appropriately," she said.
Newport resident Jody Lewis took her 11-year-old daughter to the party last year and said she highly recommends the experience.
"She enjoyed it," she said. "It wasn't too scary. She went through it well."
The party runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, and families are welcome to stop by after trick-or-treat, which takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Marietta that night.
The event, which costs $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under, is a fundraiser for the historical society and all of the proceeds go toward the restoration of the building, said historical society president Ken Finkel.
"We need a roof on the place and that's our biggest expense. So far we have a little over $100,000 raised that we have marked toward the Anchorage, but I estimate the roof alone with be around $150,000," he said.
Restoration work at the Anchorage has slowly but surely been going on for at least a decade. Because of a lack of funding, all of the work has been done by volunteers, said Finkel.
The ultimate goal is to have the grandiose 22-room home serve as the society's headquarters.
"It would be open as a library and historical museum. One of two big rooms downstairs will be a library and upstairs will be a museum and display rooms," he said.
The historical building, which was built in 1859 by prominent Mariettan Douglas Putnam, is believed to have served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It is also believed to be one of the most truly haunted places in Marietta, said Wright. The Mid-Ohio Valley Ghosthunters often hold ghost hunts in the home.
"We go in and we've gotten experiences-pictures, videos, sounds, odd things- that are unexplained," she said.
After the costume party, the haunted house will be shut down and things will quiet down for the final Anchorage ghost hunt of the year. During the hunt, all but a few storage rooms will be opened for perusal.
"Hopefully that night, with the energy of the party, whoever stays will experience some of the strange occurrences we've seen," said Wright.
The hunt is also open to people who did not attend the costume party, she said. The ghost hunt costs an additional $15 and lasts until 1 a.m.