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Lovin' Halloween

Deadview Cemetery is a draw for Halloween enthusiasts -- and a big contributor to the local Friends in Need Food Shelf in St. Paul Park. (Photo by Loryn Caldie)

Tucked behind neighborhoods and in the yard of Langdon School in Cottage Grove is the impressive maze of Deadview Cemetery.

It has a deceivingly small entrance, but beyond that entrance is the large variety of scenes designed to help spook the customers. It is all held up by wooden planks and black material, and lit up by multiple tiki torches and lights.

The home of scary scenes, spooks and screams -- and homemade costumes and designs -- it is a great place for families to celebrate Halloween. It is also an opportunity to help support the Friends in Need Food Shelf, the St. Paul Park food shelf that the cemetery is fundraising for, and the nonprofit organization, D.P.S.P. Productions.

D.P.S.P. Productions is the company that puts on Deadview Cemetery. They work on it all year round. "We are always looking for new props, different designs and things that we want to do," said Tom Parenteau, president of D.P.S.P. Productions. They start setting up for Deadview during Labor Day weekend. It takes them a full month to set up for the haunt every year because it is strictly an outdoors event, said Parenteau.

He is in charge of giving direction to the 10 to 15 volunteers who act in the maze. "I tell them what types of poses to use and how to hold those poses to get the best scare factor possible," he said. There are 13 scenes and in those scenes, viewers never know what is a prop and what is a real person, he said.

"Our layouts change slightly every year, we add different scenes depending on the mood that we're in and what kind of haunt we want that year," Parenteau said.

The city of Cottage Grove has been supportive, Parenteau said. Deadview now runs at Langdon School, which is owned by the United Steel Workers. The group is allowing the company to run Deadview free of charge because it supports Friends In Need Food Shelf. "They are helping us in any way they can," said Parenteau.

A lot of people have already been donating to the food shelf. "We are into the couple hundred pounds already, people love donating," said Parenteau. Friends in Need Food Shelf has served around 24,000 people this year and up to 181 families a week, and has over 100 volunteers, said Michelle Rageth, food shelf director. "We are so grateful that they are doing this for us," she said.

The company has a love for Halloween, said Parenteau. "Society has changed so much through the years that parents are no longer comfortable with letting their kids go out late at night," said Parenteau. D.P.S.P. wanted to provide a safe environment for people to bring their families and a place where you do not have to spend huge amounts of money. "We just want people to enjoy it and not worry about money. We want the kids to be safe and have a good time," said Parenteau.

Deadview Cemetery was created by a group of six people approximately 15 years ago in Woodbury. It started as a small display in one of the founder's yards. Admission was a non-perishable food item for a local food shelf.

The maze outgrew the front yard, so the partners decided to incorporate and make it bigger. That is when the group created D.P.S.P. Productions. It is a nonprofit, strictly Halloween organization with a six member executive board.