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Manteca sophomore delivers fright for Higbee Horror Haunt
queen of scare
Photo contributed Manteca High teacher Anna Wooten poses with a professional scarer at John Thurman Field, the site of the Higbee Horror Haunt. The haunted house attraction is in its final weekend, Oct. 28-31

Tower News

Lines of people ready for a thrill, a fright, a scare wrap around John Thurman Field.

Who’s the person behind the mask? In a rare sneak peek, Manteca High sophomore Alyssa Moreno explains life behind the makeup and spooky masks. She unveils the tips and tricks to be a professional scare queen at the Higbee Horror Haunt at Modesto’s John Thurman Field.

Moreno is a theatre student who grew up in the shadow of her mother, also an actor. Seeing her mother transform into a character through special effects and makeup had a profound impact on Moreno, who soon embarked on her own journey.

For the past few years, Moreno has been a doll, a creepy reindeer, and this Halloween season she is an old woman from a boomtown in the 1800s. Moreno has become an inspiring actor, influencing the younger audience to channel their inner expression through a broad variety of live characters. 

Higbee Horror Haunt runs seasonally and is on its final weekend, Oct. 28-31. Tickets can be purchased at

“I love drama and continue doing it because I get to put on a costume and become somebody else,” Moreno said. “I can be a different person and put in all my emotions into the character, whether it is anger or sadness. It’s a way to express myself.”

Higbee Horror Haunt gives viewers a scary, thrilling interactive experience that a screen could never provide, bringing the visuals, the fright, and the fear to life. 

Inside the stadium, you will find a house named “Krinkle’s Diner,” which mimics a haunted restaurant with meat hanging and butchers covered in blood chasing you around. There is also a dollmaker, KZMB radio, clown town, and an all-Hollow’s eve-themed house. All houses are equipped with eerie music to exaggerate and intensify their themes and volunteers ready to give you the scare of your life.

All the while, clowns with chainsaws chase their guests around the grounds. They are scattered around the premises adorned with latex masks and colorful outfits submerged in blood.

Moreno is dressed in a white night gown, oozing in blood, her hair slicked back into a bonnet mirroring a woman from the 1800s. She is dragging an axe dripping in blood and ominous laughter can be heard from afar. As she approaches, it becomes clear – her face is a skull.

Moreno is a versatile talent, as witnessed by her improvisation and design at Higbee Horror Haunt and Manteca High’s Mulvihill Theatre. As a scarer, Moreno has picked up valuable skills that she brings into her class, Technical Theatre, and the Thespian Club. Becoming somebody else on a nightly basis during the Halloween season has given Moreno the confidence to show her true personality to others.

“In Tech Theatre, Alyssa has done building and scenic painting, as well as lighting design,” Manteca High theatre teacher Dawn Coyan said. “She is thoughtful and animated in her presentations to the class.” 

Moreno is more than just a helpful volunteer. For more than five years now, Moreno has devoted her time contributing to the business’ success. Moreno does more than just scare, when the lights are on and the act is away, the accommodating, supportive side of Moreno comes out.

“Alyssa is amazing. She is super involved and loves to help us as much as she can,” said Ashley Scott, a spokesperson with the Higbee Horror Haunt. “She has helped us build, paint, clean, run a whole maze as a lead on her own. She even helped with costuming, masks and makeup.”

Moreno is an essential part of the Higbee Horror Haunt family. She invites you to her show …

At your own risk.

Manteca High senior Ty Flores contributed to this report.