By Rick Hinton
When asked what scared them the most, brothers Kevin and Paul Cook gave it some thought. “Spiders … snakes, they sneak up on you,” Kevin finally offered. Paul looked around the building for a moment. “These … I don’t like haunted houses,” he laughed. “I don’t like to be startled.” It was an interesting answer considering the building we were in was Nightmare on Edgewood, 2019 style, and brothers Kevin and Paul Cook are the owners.
“I offer a bonus to any employee that can give Paul a good start!” Kevin quipped with a smile. He was serious.
Nightmare on Edgewood, established in 1978, utilized the pavilion at the Edgewood Little League, becoming a guaranteed yearly fundraiser for the league. As many October-themed haunts popped up across the city – coming and going with regular frequency – Nightmare on Edgewood built a solid reputation of longevity as ‘Indy’s Most Intense Haunted House!’ In 2008 it went independent. The Cook brothers acquired the haunt in 2009, changing the theme very little, yet managing to add their own personal touches (semi-trailers and pole barns) as the years rolled into the present. 2019 has become the year of change with the haunt moving to a new location on the near Southside of Indianapolis. The brothers cite multiple reasons for the move, and the opportunities that a now permanent, year-round home presents:
“We’ll be able to remain open seasonally throughout the year (not just at Halloween) and extend our regular season in the fall. We’ll also have more time to spend preparing our show,” Paul Cook offered. “After 40 years in the same spot, we’ve simply outgrown our home at the Edgewood Athletic Association.”
It’s a bold move, yet one that pays immediate dividends: nearly doubling the attraction’s space to 30,000 square feet as it winds through a series of warehouses; expanding beyond just three attractions to five; the ability to leave the attraction set up for year-round work and improvements; covered indoor waiting lines.
“We have moved, but you can still expect the same great traditions and the same intensity you’ve come to expect at our event,” Kevin Cook stated.
Being located on the same city block as House of Trepidation provides opportunities to “connect” experiences between the two attractions with a package deal providing a new and innovative one-stop-shop for Halloween thrill-seekers in Indianapolis. However, if you do not like to be touched, or becoming a participant in the scenario, Nightmare on Edgewood may not be the haunted attraction for you.
Nightmare on Edgewood has been long known for being Indy’s only full-contact haunted house; traumatic scares, blood and in-your-face actors. Some folks roll just fine with that … some do not. “You are paying to be entertained … you want to be scared,” Paul Cook reasoned. “You talk to a lot of customers and they’ll tell you that’s why they come here, because they do put their hands on you. Some folks don’t like it … that’s absolutely fine. This may not be the place for you.” Purchasing a ticket brings with it an agreement that you understand what you are getting into.
“We do have full-time jobs,” Kevin Cook laughed. “This is just an expensive hobby.” Paul Cook, a Whiteland resident, is a battalion chief with the Greenwood Fire Department. Kevin, who resides in Wanamaker, owns a small pool business. Both are involved in the innovation, upkeep and repair of the attractions, in addition to designing and building the seemingly miles of scenarios making up the haunt … with a little help from their friends. Nearly 50 volunteer actors occupy the hallways and rooms each session, with an additional 12 – 15 staff members (including volunteers from the Greenwood FD) assisting with security, parking and ticket sales. The Cook brothers do not go home until the last customer has left.
On working together, sometimes 24/7, “It has its ups and downs; it’s not perfect but we communicate,” Paul Cook said. “As long as we talk, it all works out!”
Nightmare on Edgewood – Bigger, badder and more extreme than ever
Fridays and Saturdays: 6 p.m.-midnight; Thursdays: 6:30-10 p.m.
1921 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis.
Experience the madness:
- The Cabin – guests tip-toe through the backwoods home of the demented Conley family.
- Edgewood Sanitarium – bear witness to the bizarre and sometimes bloody medical practices.
- The Dark Carnival – test your courage among sinister clowns lurking around every corner.
- The Purge – outdoor insanity at its finest.
- Shadows Escape – new for 2019. Indiana’s only 3D audio sensory experience.
On closing night, Nov. 9, there will be a special blackout event – complete darkness … complete silence. A glow stick will be given to each customer to light their way. All you’ll hear is your screams.