For more than a decade Rick and Molly Quiring's Grand Avenue home in La Cañada gained a reputation among neighbors as being a good place to scare up some Halloween fun.
Started in 2001 by Rick, a former special effects guru who freelanced for Universal Studios, as a way to spend quality father-daughter time with then-kindergartener Cassy, the child-friendly event morphed as the years went on into a true spectacle of ghastliness that drew crowds of 500 visitors from beyond city limits.
"People used to drive up from Pasadena or from Glendale because they'd heard about it," Molly Quiring recalled. "We'd always get a large crowd of neighbors and parents — they'd just hang out in front of the house."
But when the family's annual Halloween maze went dark a few years back following Cassy's exit to college, it looked like a longstanding tradition had finally come to an end.
At the urging of son Sam — a La Cañada High School senior who was just a toddler when the Quiring's maze was hitting its stride — Rick Quiring decided to pull the skeletons out of the closet and dust off the old chainsaw for one last scare.
"When I was a lot younger, I was definitely very scared of it," said Sam, a 17-year-old with a penchant for building, welding and creating clever gadgets. "Now I love doing it. I love to build stuff, and for Halloween it's super fun."
The theme is clowns — not the fun, happy kind — and from the moment you walk through the front gate until the moment you run out the side yard screaming from pleasure and fright, you'll feel yourself trapped in a creepy, disorienting circus from which you cannot escape.
Rick Quiring, who now works as a contractor, said he's happy to follow Sam's lead for the family's final show.
"I'm just the dad," he said. "I'm just along for the ride."
In the days leading up to the maze's debut Saturday night, the father and son duo have been spending their free time constructing the maze and working on animatronics. This weekend, Cassy will come home from college and join a small cast of actors who will interact with people as they walk through the maze.
Although it's a family affair, and although the Quirings specifically steer away from blood and gore, the attraction is not for young children.
"It's way, way too scary for the little kids," Rick Quiring said, recommending parents of children younger than 13 do a test run themselves first to check out the fright level.
In fact, one way the Quirings have come to gauge the success of the maze is by how much candy spectators have spilled from their trick-or-treat bags onto the floor. They're hopeful this "last hurrah," as Molly Quiring puts it, will be a fitting send off for what's become a beloved family tradition.
"We'll see what the neighbors think," she said.
The Quiring's Halloween maze is located at 4800 Grand Ave., La Cañada, on the northeast corner of Grand and Flanders Road, and will operate this Saturday and again on Halloween night Tuesday, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Admission is free. The attraction is not appropriate for young children.