It has been more than a decade since I last celebrated Halloween in earnest. I enjoyed trick-or-treating and donning costumes when I was in elementary school, but since then the holiday has resonated with me less and less.

I don’t consider myself to be a superstitious person. Generally speaking, I don’t buy into the existence of ghosts or haunted spaces, but at the same time, I’d be one of the last to go looking for them. So when I was assigned to take pictures at Hatch and Kraven’s Slaughterhouse last week, I knew I’d have to put on a braver face and get the shots we needed for the newspaper.

Upon arriving at the haunted house, I found the employees were still in the process of transforming into their characters. With some time to kill before they were ready, I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed inside to get some interior shots of different themed rooms.

What I found was a maze of narrow passages, dimly lit spaces and all types of unsettling props lining the walls and swinging from the ceiling. Severed heads, creepy dolls and jars of human appendages? Check, check and check.

But in talking with the folks who ran the haunted house, which is in an actual former working slaughterhouse, I also found that they largely consider their work to be an art. Their preparation took time, creativity and, of course, a little dark humor. They even had elaborate, interconnected back stories for each of their characters.

I emerged from Hatch and Kraven’s Slaughterhouse no bigger a fan of haunted houses than when I went in. But I left the scare grounds with a greater appreciation for the theatrics and the effort that goes into scaring others senseless.

Nonetheless, I’m glad to be taking a haunted house hiatus until next year.

Happy birthday Thursday to Anntonia Ross McAlister and Kristin Jackson, both of Denison; Shirley Boaz of Sherman; James Rodgers of Whitesboro; Nelda Allison of Howe; Mary Ann Hefley Walker of Atoka, Oklahoma; Eddie Hite of Austin; Stacie Roberts of Gober.

Happy anniversary Thursday to Pat and Betty Maynard of Whitesboro, 60 years.