Update ...

Spooky show wins Tiverton approval but it all proves too much for creator to handle

Decorations, outdoor ‘haunted house’ had won conditional permit

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 10/21/20

TIVERTON — Shawn Kelly, architect and builder of the haunted yard, house and trail at Buck’s Way, has told Tiverton officials that he has reluctantly decided not to host the event this year after all.

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Update ...

Spooky show wins Tiverton approval but it all proves too much for creator to handle

Decorations, outdoor ‘haunted house’ had won conditional permit

Posted

TIVERTON — Barring a dramatic COVID turn for the worse, Shawn Kelly had won town approval for his haunted Halloween house and yard display from 5 to 10 p.m. on October 30-31. The Town Council had initial misgivings before finally voting unanimous approval, with conditions, last Tuesday.

But since then, Mr. Kelly, architect and builder of the haunted yard, house and trail, told Tiverton officials that he has reluctantly decided not to host the event this year after all. 

State requirements for social distancing, sanitation systems and much more all proved far more than he could handle, especially atop the investment that he puts into his display each year.

Had won town approval

He’ll have to follow all state COVID-19 guidelines for crowd size, masks and distancing and have a plan for parking, will have to hire police officers to enforce those rules, and the council wants assurances from the town administrator that a solid plan is in place, the board agreed last week.

Mr. Kelly used to draw crowds to his Halloween display and light show on busier Stafford Road but moved to 97 Bucks Way in Tiverton a few years ago where he now carries on the tradition.

Doing so requires a special event permit from the Town Council.

Is this even allowed, council member Denise deMedeiros wanted to know when the subject arose.

“This isn’t just a Halloween display,” she said. “I don’t know if any of you have ever seen it.”

It is big, she said, more of “an open haunted house … A great deal of people show up” and this is a small residential street — she said she was contacted by several of the neighbors last year.

“Also, this is an event where people get out of their cars and walk around.”

Council member Donna Cook said that the Recreation Department already cancelled its popular Trunk or Treat event due to COVID concerns.

“I wonder if that isn’t going to double the number of people that go to this event. Last year an enormous number of people showed up to Trunk or Treat.” And “how do the neighbors feel  about so many cars showing up?”

Others were less worried.

Town Administrator Chris Cotta said he had talked to Mr. Kelly, “and my understanding is he’s not going to have more people than the state would allow.” He will be “filtering” people through, and has already agreed to hire a police detail.

If he is willing to abide by state rules, “I don’t see why we don’t just grant this,” said John Edwards. It all takes time to set up so he needs an answer.

Police Chief Pat Jones said there was an unfortunate incident back when the event was located on Stafford Road — a drunk motorist drove through as youngsters were trying to cross the road — it was a close call — not the fault of Mr. Kelly.

The chief said he was willing to work with the town administrator to make sure adequate preparations, including for parking, are in place.

All agreed to revisit the situation at their next meeting — “We’ll have a better picture of what COVID looks like.”

After the unanimous conditional vote, Ms. deMedeiros thanked Mr. Kelly for going to the effort to hold an event while so many others have been cancelled.

(Mr. Kelly did not participate in the virtual meeting; attempts to contact him later were not successful.)

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