Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Haunted House that Cydney Built

It's the little touches that make Rocky Point Haunted House.

The dust on the organ keyboard. The smell of actual rotting meat. And dead flowers fresh from the grave. (PR person Theresa Clay says Rocky Point gets used flowers from local cemeteries.)

Get a video tour of the haunted house. Click here!

Cydney Neil says she puts in long, long hours to make this house of vampires, Killer Klowns and Bat Boys and Bat Girls just right.

No doubt, she got that kind of dedication from her father.

Scott Crabtree built the real Rocky Point. A fancy restaurant up a short steep drive in Pleasant View. He literally hand-built it out of the rock it sat on. That and military surplus.

He inlaid kitchen cabinets with rocket ship heat shielding. He turned Navy buoys into chandeliers. And tiled a ceiling with gilded egg cartons.

The restaurant opened in 1965, hosted Governor Calvin Rampton and other dignitaries, and then was forced to close three years later because of a fire.

(Cydney Neil's brother started Rocky Point, the haunted house, at the restaurant, hence the name. Neil took it over and eventually moved it to South Salt Lake.)

When I interviewed Crabtree ten years ago, he was 71 and still in the process of rebuilding his masterpiece.

He explained that he was number five in a family of six and the one that always got picked on.

"So I said, I'm gonna prove that I'm alright, that I'm somebody."

At the time he faced fines for dumping dirt and junk on the property, but was undaunted.

"Probably defiance has built it as much as a dream and ambition."

Crabtree pointed to his heart. His voice cracked. His eyes glistened.

"That's what I want to be able to have this place say. If you've got it there, you can do it."

Six months later, sparks from a fireplace ignited Rocky Point again and 35 years of work went up in flames. He was so distraught, Crabtree had to be restrained by sheriff's deputies.

Even now, the news story about the fire is heartbreaking and painful to watch.

And Cydney Neil says her father has never really gotten over Rocky Point.

"I saw my father obsess about something for an entire lifetime that ended up burning down. I don't want to be in that situation."

That's one reason why Neil is laying the Rocky Point Haunted House to rest. After next spring, Rocky Point is closing. Neil says she's not selling the show. She's closing it for good.

"I'm as attached to this place as my Dad was to Rocky Point, but the difference is he couldn't separate himself from that building," she said.
"It's not who I am, it's not what defines me."

(One of the other reasons, she says, is because she was inspired by God to close it. "That is the instruction I've been given.")

Cydney Neil doesn't like scary movies.

She says for a while she didn't really like the haunted house.

She was a model-makeup artist-fashion show producer. Not a horror fan.

She started babysitting Rocky Point Haunted House to look out for the restaurant and ended up running the show.

"How the heck did I get into this and how do I get out of it and trying to do some other things but nothing else works out again, then it's time to start the haunted house again and the kids are calling and the sponsors are calling, so I felt I got caught in this whirlwind that I couldn't get out of."

But she produced Rocky Point for 20 years. Because, she says, of the young people who haunt the house. It's now a Boys and Girls Club youth theater program.

That takes drive.

Having met her father, I could see where she got it.

Watch the Fresh Look on Life about the Rocky Point Haunted House. Click here.

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