What started as a birthday party for Ken and Teri Earwood's 5-year-old son turned into a night of pure, unmitigated terror.
And the family loved it so much, they've done it every year since.
The Huntington Beach residents celebrated their child's birthday seven years ago by converting their spacious home into a haunted house. Everyone had such a great time that the Earwoods decided to make it into an annual tradition — only now, they invite the entire community to stop by.
Friday and Saturday night, the home at 5631 Serene Drive will turn into the eighth annual Earrywood Haunted House, with more than 25 monsters lurking about and elementary, middle and high school students working in the shadows.
"Everybody loves it," Earwood said. "They say it's scarier than Knott's Scary Farm."
The Earrywood Haunted House opens at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and stays open until people stop coming, which Earwood estimated as 10 or 10:30 p.m. Admission is free.
It's not just dress-up time for humans this weekend — at Old World Village, dogs can get into the act as well.
The German-themed shopping center will hold its annual costume contests Saturday and Sunday. Adults get the festivities started at 9 p.m. Saturday, with kids getting the spotlight at 4 p.m. Sunday. In between, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, owners can parade their canines in costume around the Village's cobblestone streets.
At 3 p.m. will be the center's monthly dachshund race — although Assistant Manager Pam Alagata said the wiener dogs probably won't sport their garb on the racetrack.
"They go faster if they don't have any costume on," Alagata said.
Admission for the adult costume contest is $15, although attendees can get $5 off if they show up before 7:30 p.m. with a coupon from http://www.oldworld.ws. Admission on Sunday is $5, or free with a coupon from the same website. For more information, call (714) 895-8020.
Bella Terra will hold its own costume contest Saturday for kids 14 and younger. Prizes will be awarded for ages 3 and younger, 4 to 6 years and 7 to 14 years. Registration begins at 11:30 am at the Bella Terra amphitheater, with final judging starting at 1 p.m. Admission and entrance are free.
Bella Terra is at 7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach. For more information, call (714) 897-2534.