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House of Screams

Death welcomes visitors to the graveyard of the Dr. Dekay’s House of Screams at the Ro-Na.

Death welcomes visitors to the graveyard of the Dr. Dekay’s House of Screams at the Ro-Na.

First weekend of haunted house at Ro-Na brings many scares

Paul Smith, or Dr. Dekay to many around the Halloween holiday, said he first went to a haunted house when he was 12 years old.

“I walked in with my sister and it was horrible,” Smith said. “You could see everything from beginning to end. I knew when I was that young that I could do better.”

A couple years later, Smith started creating his own haunted houses and now sets up Dr. Dekay’s House of Screams locations all over the area, a business that has been around for just under 20 years.

Friday and Saturday marked the first weekend of Dekay’s haunted house at the RoNa and the first year the Friends of Ironton have opened up the theater for a haunted attraction, which featured many different characters who could have came straight out of a horror movie.

“The Friends of Ironton invited me down here to the RoNa to do a haunted house,” Smith said. “They need funds on this building so I helped them out. Hopefully it takes off.”

Smith also said he and some of his crew of volunteers go every year to the Midwest Haunters Convention in Columbus to learn makeup techniques and different scare tactics.

“It’s an art. Everything has to be just right or people miss the whole beauty of it,” Smith said. “This has always been a passion of mine since I was a young boy.”

Dr. Dekay’s House of Screams has changed and grown a lot since it first started out.

“People used to say ‘not scary enough,’” Alice Williams, Dr. Dekay’s House of Screams business manager, said. “They don’t say that anymore.”

Smith and Williams both said they have enjoyed working with the Friends of Ironton to make this a possibility at the RoNa this year.

“So far we couldn’t be happier with the Friends of Ironton,” Williams said. “They’ve been great and have given us everything we’ve needed. We work well together.”

Dr. Dekay’s House of Screams will be open from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. every Friday and Saturday this month. The cost is $20 and also includes admission to the Ironton Lions Club Haunted Tunnel with a shuttle available every 20 minutes. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31, the Friends of Ironton will be hosting a craft beer fest called “Blood and Brews” at the RoNa during the haunted house as well.