Over the years, Manny Souza of Fairhaven has solidified his role as the Halloween ringleader of his neighborhood. His haunted walk-through in his backyard entices hundreds of thrill-seekers every Halloween season, and at the root of all the terror is a heartfelt desire to give back to the community.

“I’ve been doing it for about 14 years,” Souza said. “I saw a friend doing it and he was getting a lot of trick-or-treaters. I turned around and said to myself, ‘I can do that.’”

He decorates for Halloween because that is what he enjoys doing, but when people started giving him money to buy more props, he and his wife decided to donate those proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

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For Souza, Halloween is everything.

“You can dress up and be whatever you want,” he said. “Halloween gets the community involved. It’s not like Christmas or Thanksgiving when it’s just family, it’s the entire community coming together.”

He manages to get the community together thanks to his passion for horror. Known as the “Ole’ Oxford Haunt," people flock to 60 Oxford Street to get their blood pumping and heart racing. Souza’s backyard is transformed into a ghostly walk-through, where creatures meander menacingly throughout the lot. The first stop is the clown room, followed by the coffin room, which leads out to the cemetery. From there, you’ll come face to face with crooked pirates and creepy skeletons. Then you will find the treehouse filled with zombie babies and the “body room” filled with dismembered body parts.

Souza’s haunt typically attracts hundreds of people, but after he was featured in a documentary called The American Scream in 2012, over 2,000 people showed up to Ole’ Oxford Haunt.

Since 2012, numbers have remained high, and so has Souza’s goal of raising money for the people who need it most.

“I used to raise money for American Cancer Society, but now I raise money for Haunts for Homeless,” he said.

Souza shared that a Rhode Island friend named Jef Benson typically hosts popular haunts and dedicates his efforts by giving back to Haunts for Homeless, a nonprofit organization that provides supplies and shelter to the less fortunate.

“He’ll go out and buy backpacks and fill them up with toiletries, socks, hats, gloves, and he’ll pass them out to people,” Souza said. Benson was unable to do it this year, so Souza took the reins.

He looks forward to ending Halloween night with a gigantic silly-string fight amongst his friends and family, a tradition that they have upheld year after year.

Until then, they will continue to scare and terrify the community for a scary-good cause.

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