Someone You Should Know: Homemade Haunted House

PARKER, S.D. – For many people, Halloween is all about the candy, but for one, he makes it his mission to scare people.

“When they see the ship sail, they know it’s close to halloween,” said Parker resident, Rick Niezwaag.

Rick and his family have been scaring their neighbors for 12 years. On Halloween in 198o Rick went into the military at 18-years-old.

“When I got out I said I’m going to enjoy Halloween with the best of them and this is kind of a culmination of everything as the years have gone by,” said Niezwaag.

His goal is to create an experience for trick-or-treaters.

“I don’t like inflatables, I don’t like plastic, you know for Christmas that’s alright but for Halloween it’s gotta look like you can go in and actually mingle with the stuff like a haunted house,” said Niezwaag.

95% of it is homemade.

“My wife and I call it curb shopping,” Niezwaag said. “when people throw stuff out, if we find out about it, we’ll pick it up and we’ll try to reiterate it into some of our projects and stuff like that. That’s how we do a lot of this.”

A crowd favorite has been their haunted ship.

“The ship we built four years ago from scratch. There was absolutely no blueprints or nothing. My wife gave me a $1,000 and I blew right through that,” said Niezwaag.

Rick says the spooky ideas just come to him, “actually it’s all the demons I’ve got in my head really, but a lot of times I go to my kids. You know, they’re a great inspiration.”

He and his wife figure out how to DIY the decorations using ideas from Pinterest and surfing the web. Each year they add something new to keep it interesting for returning visitors.

“When I do have challenges from the older kids that. ‘oh you can’t scare me.’ You just set up red flags. I’ve got to scare you now,” said Niezwaag.

This year, it’s these Druids.

“It took us ten hours to do those and they’re made out of burlap, wood, chicken wire and the drywall cement is what it is,” said Niezwaag.

It’s a lot of work to put together, but the family says the scares make it all worth it.

The Niezwaag’s say just like in years past, they got around 300 visitors in the days leading up tot Halloween and on Halloween night.


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