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Saugus gets scary for a good cause

Jackson Stanton working with a drop down window in the haunted house they are building in the MEG building on Essex Street in Saugus. (Owen O'Rourke)

SAUGUS — Just in time for Friday the 13th, the MEG Building has been transformed into a nightmare on Essex Street.

Saugus residents Mark Andrews and Bob Catinazzo have created a spooky attraction in the basement of the former school that is expected to elicit screams from all ages.

“We try to change the theme every year to make it different and make it scary,” said Andrews. “This year the theme is nightmares. We’ll have a little bit of something that everyone is afraid of.”

The team has included everything from blood and gore to creepy crawlers and clowns. Special lighting and 3D effects are featured in different rooms of the maze.

Tickets cost $5 and a portion of the profits will be donated to Saugus High School and Miles for Miracles, a fundraising marathon for Boston Children’s Hospital that Catinazzo participates in each year. This year, funds will also be donated to the Leonards, a Saugus family in need of a wheelchair-accessible van.

A donation jar will be put out for Ali and Danielle Remigio, the daughters of Somerville Police Officer Louis Remigio, who was killed in a motorcycle accident last week. The girls are Andrews’ nieces and help organize the haunted house each year.

“At the end of the day, we love to scare but it’s about having the ability to make it a charity event and give back to our community,” said Catinazzo.

The annual haunted house started in 2006 when Andrews was renovating his basement and decided to paint the walls black and create a haunted house. The next year, the maze was moved to his backyard and children from the Lynnhurst Elementary School were invited to walk through.

More people began to show up for a fright each year and eventually Andrews sought a larger space, landing at the MEG in 2011.

Andrews is the mastermind behind creative new designs and always tries to go above and beyond what he’s done in the past, while Catinazzo typically plays the main role in the haunted scenes and helps keep teens who volunteer as actors on track. Saugus High School students can log community service hours while working.

Crowds average between 100 and 150 people per night, but the pair are hoping to grow that number during this season.

The haunted house will be open from 6-9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays until Oct. 28.

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