From Anthem Country Club to Red Rock Country Club, neighbors across the valley are outdoing each other in an attempt to present the coolest, most fun Halloween “spook-tacular” party. Some of these productions resemble a Hollywood movie set, and the giveaways are not your basic penny candy.
Lauren Browne Sugars has lived on Red Arrow Drive in the luxury community Red Rock Country Club since 2011, and has created a top-tier haunted house experience that thousands of visitors enjoyed last year.
“Our street goes all out for all of the holidays,” Sugars said. “It’s really fun to live on a street that gets so into it. It’s really the only street in our neighborhood that closes off to anything other than pedestrians and golf cart traffic.”
And, the community sponsors a golf cart decorating contest as well, she said.
Lauren Browne Sugars lives with her husband, Brad, an author and internationally known business coach, and their four children in a custom house built in 2014 in The Estates. It’s a two-story home with a basement, and the top floor is an open platform designed for entertaining, with expansive views of Las Vegas.
“It’s really beautiful,” she said, but quite different from her childhood home in Massachusetts, a 200-year-old house on a block where “all of the houses on that street, naturally, are old, Victorian houses with a real, kind of spooky feel.”
Halloween became a family tradition that expanded throughout her neighborhood, Sugars recalled.
“When I was 8 years old, my parents decided to do something different for Halloween, and they hired a cotton candy machine, and our neighbors across the street hired a popcorn machine, so instead of giving out traditional candy, we gave out popcorn and cotton candy, which was a huge hit and a lot of the other houses on our street followed suit, doing fun things like ‘witch’s potion’ (hot apple cider) and things like that, which made our street a destination.”
She was forevermore known as the kid who lived in the house that gave away cotton candy on Halloween.
The street was safe and it became a tradition that was built on year after year in her town as well as neighboring ones, she said. “Since the entire street got involved, it was a really popular place to visit on Halloween.”
Brad Sugars is from Australia, where the holiday has only recently begun to catch on, Lauren Sugars explained. “When I first met him, he was giving out king-sized candy bars. But I suggested to him to (get) cotton candy and popcorn machines … and we did that the following year, and it was such a success that other people on the street started doing some fun things for Halloween as well.”
At the Sugars’ house, the holiday has evolved into two events: a pre-Halloween adult costume party held on the upper level of their house and attended by many friends and family who help build the main event, which is a haunted house set up in their garage for one night only, Oct. 31.
For the whole month of October, they decorate the whole inside and exterior, then on Halloween, it all gets moved into their (emptied) six-car garage. They arrange black butcher paper to create a maze of six to eight “tunnels,” which visitors weave through, exiting at the far end. Each row has a theme: skulls and bones, creepy crawly things, a clown hallway and a dinosaur hallway. A fog machine and black lights add to the ambiance, Lauren Browne Sugars said. “We think it’s scary. That’s one of the reasons why we do it … the average age is pretty young, and it’s definitely scary for younger kids.”
They escort the youngest ones through to ensure minimal traumatization.
“My 4-year-olds love it. Nobody gets hurt. It’s the spooky, fun Halloween tradition that we do.”
Their teenage daughters, Coby and Kenzie Sugars, forgo their own trick or treating to lurk around the garage, jumping out and scaring the heck out of visitors, or “whispering, to kind of get the energy going,” Lauren Browne Sugars said.
Instead of candy, those brave enough to venture through the attraction receive a novelty ice cream bar, dispensed from an ice cream truck parked at the garage exit. And last year, the bill was for 2,200 bars. Well worth it, said the family that clearly strives to live up to their surname.
For those seeking a less scary, yet hands-on Halloween adventure, Nicole Tomlinson has created Operation Halloween, now in full swing at Tivoli Village in Summerlin. The indoor, family-centered attraction encompasses 7,500-square feet carved into five themed rooms.
The rooms include a carnival room, complete with classic games, immersive lights and sounds; a witch’s mansion where sensory items like a zip line and rock climbing wall keep kids engaged; an interactive haunted house replica with a candy witch, organ playing ghost, and a scarecrow escort; a slime factory, and a pumpkin patch where kids can select a pumpkin to take. It culminates in a venture down a rabbit hole leading to, you guessed it, the Alice in Wonderland room, where kids can decorate their pumpkin while drinking tea. The visit, designed to last 55 minutes, ends with a family photo.
Tomlinson, a native Las Vegan and mother of a 5-year-old daughter, wanted to carry on her family’s tradition of gathering on Halloween.
“The whole family dresses up, and we’d get together, either with family or friends. It was always a big tradition of mine growing up, and I wanted to carry that through with my daughter,” she said.
For two years, she has lured thousands into her Operation Santa’s Workshop, also held at Tivoli Village, and she knew a Halloween-themed event would be a hit.
“There’s not a lot of interactive family experiences in Las Vegas, and it was a dream to create something that would be beneficial to the community and allow children to have an experience that wasn’t being offered in Las Vegas,” she said of Santa’s Workshop, “and now it’s gone into a second holiday.”
When she’s not sponsoring holiday extravaganzas, Tomlinson is a broker salesperson with the Ivan Sher Group, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties
A portion of the ticket sales will be earmarked for several local charities throughout the run of the event, including The Shade Tree Shelter and the Clark County School District.
The attraction will be open daily through Oct. 31. Tickets for all attendees start at $32, which includes a branded photo and keepsake, with additional photo packages available. For further information, go to operationhalloween.com.