Just in time for Halloween, a haunted attraction is amid controversies. The Haunted Garden, located in Donna Kerr’s backyard in Silver Spring, Maryland, has received restraining orders from the court. Montgomery County wants to close down the attraction, which has welcomed families since 2010.
Spooky Garden Adventure
More than 4,000 guests have ventured into Kerr’s haunted garden, located along the 9200 block of Worth Avenue. Describing herself as an “over-the-top Halloween lover” on her website, Donna is a real estate agent who says, “I love giving back to the community” on her site. The Haunted Garden is designed by Rania Peet, who specializes in “decorating special and theatrical events.” The duo joined hands to design an opulent Halloween experience in Kerr’s backyard.
The yard is a creepy delight that features 20-foot fog-breathing monsters, a fog-filled cemetery, and lagoon. The free attraction situated on a lush quarter-acre lot boasts eight separate exhibits all nestled under 100- foot illuminated oak trees. The experience is made daunting through theatrical lighting, special effects, and live actors, explains their Facebook page. This year, Kerr, together with Peet, had planned a 18-foot witch for her annual five-day event around Halloween.
However, just as the popular scary festival approaches, the local attraction is in jeopardy.
While the ghostly adventure has enthralled several, many of Kerr’s neighbors are not pleased. They complained that the 10-minute walk has resulted in “unreasonable traffic, parking, noise, and safety impacts,” said the signed temporary restraining order. Many even protested that Kerr is executing a commercial project in a residential area by promoting her real estate company, Pure Energy.
The Washington Post quotes Jack Detzner, Kerr’s neighbor and a lawyer, who said in an email to county officials included in the filing for the injunction, “This is not a community event or a neighborhood event. With 2,000 business development fliers mailed throughout the area, and the business website advertisements, and 500 strangers per night for each of the five nights, it is a business development event.”
On Friday, October 4, the county went to court, and following that, a court restraining order was released, wherein defendants Donna Kerr and Pure Energy Real Estate were required to “cease and desist advertising The Haunted Garden … except to indicate that the event has been canceled.” In addition, they were required to remove all references of the Haunted Garden from various social media websites, according to the signed temporary restraining order.
The Locals Join Hands in Support
As several media outlets profile the controversy, The Haunted Garden is currently the talk of the town. As Kerr aims to fight back, local friends and fans have poured their support on their Facebook page. During various media interviews, young children were seen standing in support of their favorite attraction, holding boards that said, “The Haunted Garden Is Awesome!” and “The Haunted Garden Rocks!”, among several others. A young fan said, “I love the Haunted Garden, because they change it every year” and urged the public to save it in a YouTube video interview shared on their blog.
Several messages of “Help Save the Garden!” have popped on their Facebook page. In addition, a blog has been started to document their campaign and to spread the word. A link for donations has been set up, which will be used towards legal proceedings.
The final hearing was scheduled for October 15.