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More than a dozen scenes are elaborately decorated to provide thrill seekers with a scare like they’ve never had before. Deadview Cemetery, now in its 17th year, opens this weekend. (Submitted photo)

Halloween horrors come alive at Deadview Cemetery

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Halloween horrors come alive at Deadview Cemetery
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

Halloween is woven in the founders of Deadview Cemetery.

Something about the high-pitched shrieks, freaked-out faces and thrill of the scare keeps them coming back for more every year. Now in its 17th year, the haunt is adding even more fright this fall.


What started out as a small cemetery scene in the front yard of a Woodbury home grew exponentially each year until founder Tom Parenteau and his dedicated group of friends who make up Dead People Smell Putrid Productions relocated the haunt to the former Langdon School property, where fear now runs rampant.

“We have a love of scaring the snot out of people,” Parenteau joked. “It’s just a riot.”

This year, D.P.S.P. Productions and a group of horror enthusiasts have put together 13 scenes for the walk-through haunt that vary from classic thrillers to Far East hauntings. The group began setting up the fall attraction over Labor Day weekend and completed the final inspection last weekend.

“It takes us a good month to set up the walking trails and drive the 300 some steel posts into the ground to get the walls up,” Parenteau said. “We put up a lot of black cloth so people can’t see the different scenes throughout the haunt. It’s a thrill all the way through.”

From intricate details to the talented volunteers who don gory makeup, Parenteau said his team is complimented year after year of how real it all looks.

“People are just blown away,” he said. “They are just amazed when they get to our front gate. We do this as a passion and we care about what we do.”

Special meaning

One new prop in the Egyptian scene in this year’s attraction has special meaning to the D.P.S.P Productions team, especially Parenteau. As a co-founder of the haunt with his wife Teri, the couple were instrumental in getting the event off the ground. However, Teri died unexpectedly on the morning of April 29.

Not previously involved in anything horror-related prior to meeting her husband, Teri took to the haunt life almost immediately.

“When she got going, she embraced it with such a love that was amazing,” Parenteau explained. “Last winter after Halloween she was already working on a new prop. Her loss has really been felt by everyone.”

Without spoiling the terror for patrons, Parenteau described a frightful Egyptian queen Teri was last working on that is sure to raise blood pressures. While the idea to place Teri’s final prop into the haunt was a difficult but necessary decision, it was also a sort of therapy, Parenteau said, adding this year’s festivities are dedicated to her.

As an affordable haunt, the importance of making the experience available to all is fundamental to the running of Deadview Cemetery.

“We have a firm belief that families should be able to come out and enjoy Halloween without breaking the bank,” Parenteau said. “Still to this day, we vow to keep admission low.”

Food shelf benefits

While keeping prices down, the event also raises awareness to the local Friends in Need Food Shelf. In 1998, when the haunt relocated to Cottage Grove, the D.P.S.P Productions team became a recognized nonprofit organization and chose the food shelf to be its beneficiary. The event collected non-perishable items in the beginning, but after talking with Michelle Rageth, longtime director of the food shelf, it was apparent that cash was also needed.

“Although non-perishables are wonderfully accepted the monetary donations can do much more,” Parenteau said. “The money is used to help pay for medications, electric bills, things of that nature. It was a no-brainer to go strictly cash.”

A portion of the $7 admission fee goes directly to Friends in Need and last year the event raised $2,000 for the local nonprofit.

“There are some new scenes this year and we want people to come and be scared,” Parenteau added. “If they have the ability to take their time and see everything, that’s great.

Emily Buss
Emily Buss joined the South Washington County Bulletin in February 2013. She covers local government in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport, along with other general assignment reporting. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
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