Fun House offers new, welcoming treat for children

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Merva Zaleski has put a lot of time and effort into making sure the children of Michiana will have their own non-scary Halloween experience this year.
From the former Niles Haunted House Scream Park location at 319 Bell Road, Zaleski and others, have created a fun and exciting environment inside the Niles Children's Fun House.
Starting Saturday, Oct. 4, the Fun House will be open every Saturday and Sunday in October.
Zaleski, who is the Fun House supervisor, said 40 percent of the rooms are new this year.
The Fun House includes a Kangaroo Outback Zoo, an "I Spy" room and a "Surf In the USA" room, as well as several other rooms that are created based on themes and characters most children are familiar with.
The Fun House also has a mirror section that casts reflections disproportional to the person standing in front of the mirror.
That attraction may end up amusing parents more than the children.
Zaleski, who welcomed the media for a sneak preview into this year's Fun House on Tuesday evening, said the children seem to enjoy the Pumpkin Room, which remains from last year.
Monsters Inc., a Scooby Doo Hallway and face painting, as well as a room filled with balloons in which children can search for Nemo, the main character in the recent Disney movie "Finding Nemo," are also attractions that will hopefully enthrall youngsters.
Zaleski said children that do the Fun House experience will be given prizes, such as hats that glow under a black-light at the end of their visit.
Laura Griffin from St. Joseph visited the Fun House with her husband and their children on Tuesday.
She said her five-year-old son, Joshua, especially enjoyed the monkey room. Joshua's smile seemed to confirm his mother's conclusion.
The Niles Children's Fun House is a part of the Niles Haunted House, a non-profit community project.
Volunteers staff the facility to raise funds for many worthwhile community groups.
Last year, participating organizations at both the Fun House and Scream Park received donations totaling more than $70,000.
In addition the Niles Haunted House funds college scholarships at both Niles and Brandywine high schools.
Pete Karlowicz, main administrator of the Niles Haunted House, paid the Fun House a visit during Tuesday's media preview.
He is glad to have Zaleski as part of the Niles Haunted House team.
The Fun House is mainly created for children from twelve years and younger.
For more information about the Fun House, call 269-687-3327 or visit the Niles Haunted House web site at www.haunted.org.

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