History of Realms of Darkness
As teen members, Jay Wallace, Jim Miller and James Winters all hosted 4-H haunted houses or Halloween fun houses with support from Tuolumne County 4-H Council and clubs. Venues varied from old houses to empty stores to an empty one-room school. In 1999, Shaun Sanders proposed the Realms of Darkness Haunted House as a fundraiser for Hi 4-H to support their teen activities and service projects. With space provided by the Junction Shopping Center, the legend of the Realms of Darkness was born. The House has gained momentum every year since, providing entertainment for teens and adults on chilly October nights. It has always been wheelchair friendly, inspected by the Fire Marshall and includes safety features. The Matinee began as a way to introduce younger children to the special effects in a less-scary atmosphere. Many families venture into the House during the Matinee and find it so intriguing that they return at night for the full show.
In 2007, The House moved to the red barn behind Sonora Lumber in downtown Sonora. Offered the opportunity for expansion, the House masterminds jumped at the chance to create new rooms for ghouls and creepy crawly things.
Creative geniuses all, the Hi 4-H volunteer leaders who direct building and operations are assisted by a cadre of lost souls who venture forth on cold dark nights to shriek, moan and rattle chains. In truth, their daytime jobs are nothing like their nighttime endeavors. Without costume and makeup they are the backbone of our community. The teen members of Hi 4-H and some younger siblings make up the workforce, learning building skills as they design, construct and paint the theme rooms. Then they learn theatrical makeup, acting and lighting to add reality to the rooms.