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The scariest house in town

The man behind the La Cañada Halloween Maze has been spooking neighbors for 10 years.

October 26, 2011|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com
  • La Canada resident Rick Quiring poses with an animatronic creature on display at his family's Halloween maze. Quiring has held the maze at his home for the past 10 years. (Photo courtesy of the Quiring family)
La Canada resident Rick Quiring poses with an animatronic…

La Cañada kids who trick-or-treat at the home of Rick and Molly Quiring will be getting more than a bite-size candy bar for their trouble — more like a heaping portion of fright, if Rick Quiring has his way.

Quiring is the mastermind behind the La Cañada Halloween Maze, which thanks to enthusiastic kids and an exceptionally supportive wife, will this year be celebrating its 10th anniversary of scaring the daylights out of neighborhood kids on Halloween.

The maze, located at 4800 Grand Ave., will be open from nightfall until 10:30 p.m. on Monday. There's no admission fee, but this year the Quirings are hoping attendees will choose to make a donation to their daughter's soccer team, the Los Angeles Premiere Football Club.

This year there's a whole new theme to get hearts racing. Rick Quiring didn't want to give the big shock away, but think “terror under the big top,” and you'll get the idea.

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He used to work special effects and helped build Halloween mazes in Osaka, Japan, for Universal Studios. He said that when he returned he was inspired by his daughter to start building his own.

“My daughter is now 14. We started this when she was in kindergarten, and realized she loved it as much as I do,” Quiring said.

“I used to do it professionally, now I do it at the house for the kids, I guess because my wife lets me still.”

His experience has given him the skills to scare like a pro.

“Because I've done this professionally, I know how to make[attendees] turn corners and look at one thing, and something jumps somewhere else; kind of tempt them here and scare them there,” Quiring said.

Molly Quiring said that as the maze has grown over the last 10 years, so has her affection for it.

“I thought he was crazy, actually, but here's the thing: The kids have so much fun and it's become such a tradition in the neighborhood, and in La Cañada, that I've grown to really like it and enjoy it,” said Molly Quiring.

And of course, the maze has grown. Over the last decade it's become a 215-foot trail of terror that wraps around the entire house, filled with around $25,000 worth of pneumatics, props and animation, plus live-action scares courtesy of the kids and their cousins.

As the maze has gotten bigger, so has the neighborhood's response.

“The first year we had about 20 kids come by the house; the last two years we've been counting and it's right around 500 now,” said Rick.

Molly Quiring said that the couple hoped to attract 1,000 visitors this year.

Anyone with a kid can come by, she said, but it's recommended they be 10 years of age or older.

“Kids much younger go through the maze, but what we like to do is tell the parents to walk through first, because everyone knows their own child — some scare more easily than others,” said Molly.

In fact, some people find plenty to see outside of the maze itself.

“Part of the greatest fun is just to stand outside and watch who comes out screaming out the exit,” said Rick Quiring.

“It's gotten to be pretty big; they say it's basically like a party in the street, people stand outside.”

In the end, Molly Quiring said seeing how much fun everyone has makes the whole thing worth it.

“It's this huge production, but the amount of fun the kids get out of it, it's something I look forward to it now,” said Molly Quiring.

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