The Northland Horror team at their A Hearty Halloween fundraiser. Photo / Provided
A festival of fear turned into a festival of joy after Northland Horror’s Hearty Halloween event raised around $5,000 for Kind Hands in Whangārei.
A sold-out crowd of cheaters flocked to McKay Stadium in Kensington on November 5 to test their nerves as they navigated a dark maze and spooky houses – where a tasty snack or exciting toy awaited them at the end.
Aaron Kerr, owner of Northland Horror – whose must-have costume is iconic Halloween villainous Michael Myers – was thrilled with the success of their main annual event.
Last year marked the local events society’s first Halloween fundraiser at the humble Whareora Hall. There they raised nearly $2,000 for Heart Kids Northland.
Kerr said he sold 500 tickets on behalf of this year’s recipient, Kind Hands.
Kind Hands is a purpose-built cottage that provides early childhood education and respite care for children under the age of six with disabilities, medical conditions or who are dependent on technology.
Northland Horror visited the cabin to see the facility, the work of the staff and hear the story firsthand, Kerr said.
“We thought, this is a brilliant charity to help out.”
Kind Hands office administrator Karen Phillips was thrilled with the generosity of Northland Horror.
She said the money would go directly to active renovations to the existing building, allowing them to help another 10 families. A new sensory room is also planned.
“It means a lot to us,” Phillips said. “We’ve been very busy and have a huge waiting list, so any donation we can use for the new building means a lot.”
Currently, Kind Hands founders and owners, Sharlene Clements, and her husband, David, are funding the facility out of their own pockets.
“Northland Horror did a fantastic job that day and we are so grateful to them,” Phillips said.
Kind Hands staff repaid in kind by volunteering on the day of A Hearty Halloween, which included a 6am start time to turn the stadium into a spooky nightmare.
The popularity of A Hearty Halloween bolstered Kerr’s plans to continue hosting adult horror events.
“The ones where we can actually scare people,” he said.
Kerr was inspired to create Northland Horror three and a half years ago after a stint in Fear NZ while living in South Canterbury.
From humble beginnings – a scarecrow in a maze – turned into making props and helping to organize events for Fear NZ, the country’s largest horror charity.
After moving home, Kerr found Northland’s spooky side was missing and decided to fill the void.
“There’s a good demand for it,” he said. “With us, we do it like charity events, that helps too.”