PARMA, Ohio — For over a decade, a house in Parma has thrilled thousands in Northeast Ohio during Halloween with their haunted maze and front yard.
But this year’s haunted house was put in jeopardy after the owners were cited by the city of Parma for having junk and debris in the front yard.
“I moved into the city of Parma in 2002, into this house. I started decorating and I always loved Halloween,” said John Douglas, homeowner.
Douglas has turned his house into Douglas Manor on Lincoln Avenue in Parma for the past 16 years.
He doesn’t take a single cent and gives any money to charity.
“Last year, I did something for the Cleveland Food Bank. We took donations and had several totes of non-perishable items. We did have some monetary donations and I gave them the cash. It’s something I enjoy doing; I’ve always liked Halloween ever since I was a kid,” said Douglas.
But this neighborhood haunted house was almost canceled after the city of Parma cited Douglas for a violation of a city ordinance almost two weeks ago.
“I came home the 24th and I had a notice from the city; my wife got one as well. It was a summons to appear in court for a city ordinance violation for junk and debris in my yard,” said Douglas.
The junk being his Halloween decorations.
The debris being the pallets he uses for the haunted maze.
However, his explanation of what they are and why they are being used fell on deaf ears.
“Monday, I went personally into the building department and tried to speak to the inspector. He showed me the violation and the copies of the pictures he took. It was my Halloween decorations that I had brought from storage. And I was laying stuff out and going back and forth from storage bringing out my Halloween decorations so I could start building my Halloween Douglas Manor,” said Douglas.
Shortly after FOX 8 did a Facebook Live with Douglas about his situation, the city announced the citations would be dropped against Douglas and his wife.
“The city was not aware that the large items visible from the street were for a Halloween fundraising display. Now that we have reviewed all the facts, we have recommended the citation be dismissed,” said Parma Safety Director Tom Weinreich in a statement Monday night.
It’s a relief to Douglas and his wife, who say construction of the haunted house is several days behind.
But he promises to have it all done the weekend before Halloween.
“In the 16 years I’ve lived here, I’ve never had a single neighbor say this offends me, bothers me, please don’t do it. I’ve had nothing but positive reaction from everybody in the city, at least in this neighborhood that come and enjoy it,” said Douglas.