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October 18, 2013

The haunting

How two New Hampshire guys made a business out of spooking people

(Continued)

Chris Nobrega, 17, of Salem, N.H., knew for years that he wanted to work at SpookyWorld but kept getting rejected because of his age. Finally, last year, he was accepted as a performer.

“I’m scaring people, and getting paid. It doesn’t get much better,” he said.

The best actors — fewer than 10 percent — are selected for the midway. That means that they have free range to roam the park, scaring patrons when they least expect it.

“They’re the most talented,” Caulfield said. “To make it on the midway, you’ve got to be the best. It’s hard to become a midway actor.”

Robert Matteau, 23, of Manchester, N.H., is returning for his fifth season at SpookyWorld. Matteau, who is a cook at LongHorn Steakhouse when he isn’t scaring, knew that he wanted to work at SpookyWorld when he went through the attraction and was frightened. Now, he enjoys keeping visitors on their toes as a midway actor.

“We make sure you aren’t bored,” he said. “You have to constantly watch your back, because we’re out for blood.”

Matteau said that he loves seeing the look of terror on the faces of people who are genuinely scared.

“And when you get these big football players to scream like a girl,” he said.

It’s that devotion to providing a terrifying night that keeps patrons coming back year after year.

“I like the thrill of it,” said Jack Lithgow, 17, of Peterborough, N.H. “It’s different than all the other haunted houses.”

“It’s the excitement,” said Kelsi Carter, 17, of Epping, N.H., who has been coming to SpookyWorld for four years. “It’s awesome how they chase you. It gets your blood pumping.”

If you go

What: SpookyWorld/Nightmare New England

Where: 454 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, N.H.

When: Open Thursdays through Sundays until Nov. 2. Haunts open at 7 p.m.; Funway Park opens 3 p.m. on Fridays, noon Saturdays and Sundays.

How: Tickets $29.99-$54.99 at the door or online at www.nightmarenewengland.com

SpookyWorld by the Numbers

250 employees

147 dressed characters

7 makeup artists

50,000 annual visitors

5,500 people per night

5 haunted attractions

2-4 hours to go through the haunted attractions

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