The West Coast Haunters Convention is unique in the Halloween industry. It is more than the distinctive style of the haunters who attend (many of whom have been unable to travel east to other Halloween conventions); it’s more than the welcoming family atmosphere (indeed, we like to say that even if you attend only once, you’re in the WCHC family forever); more than the volunteer staff, the volunteers who aren’t on staff, and those willing to pitch in or do anything in a PINCH, this convention stands alone as the only Halloween convention and tradeshow that’s a 501c3. Yep, we give all our profits—all of ‘em—to very deserving, amazing and uplifting deaf and autistic children.
You see, about nine years ago, our founder Ed Roberts, decided to hold a convention for his students at Oregon’s School for the Deaf—a reward, if you will, for all the hard work and hours they dedicated to their own haunted house, The Nightmare Factory (celebrating it’s 30th year and is the oldest haunted attraction in Oregon). The haunted house was charity, too, and provided upgrades to student housing and purchased equipment. To Ed, his hard-working students needed a platform where they could hone their skills, learn new scare techniques, and network with other Halloween enthusiasts like them.
Today, we have moved from our humble beginnings in the gym of the Oregon School for the Deaf and are now happily rooted at the Doubletree by Hilton Inn at Lloyd Center in Portland. And the best part? They give us the entire 13th floor (yes, there’s a 13th floor!) for fun, networking, and Halloween-themed shenanigans. (It’s seriously the best three days you will experience all year.)
We’ve grown. We like to feel like we’ve listened to our vendors and attendees and continue to add tours, activities, education and speakers relevant to haunters at all levels: yard haunts, home haunts, charity haunts, displays, pro haunts, would-be pro haunters, and everyone in between. We are the only convention in the industry that holds one of our biggest events on the night the convention closes: The Nightmare After the WCHC. This, too, was by request: Many of our guests weren’t flying out until Monday morning and wanted somewhere to continue the party. Today, it’s one of our most-attended events.
Our charity (silent) auction held during the costume ball has provided so much of our charitable contributions. Generous donors with amazing donations last year brought in $4,500, an amount that always goes straight to the kids. Our attendees look forward to this event each year and clearly earmark funds just for the unique Halloween items up for bid.
Each year we have educators who fly in from all corners of the United States to lend their expertise to the eager haunters wanting business, creative, or hands-on information to help take their haunts to a different level. Our tradeshow floor boasts vendors selling lighting, fog juice and machines, masks, makeup, electronics, décor, costumes, and unique items you can’t find anywhere else.
Escape rooms, haunted attractions, pub crawls, opening night mixers, the costume ball (with an award for Best Costume on the West Coast), and even a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show are just some of the events held over the years of the convention. We make sure it’s a busy three days for you.
You’ll never meet more welcoming staff, all volunteers who love the reason we put this convention together to begin with—the kids. If you ever need anything, stop anyone—even if they aren’t wearing a badge. Anyone will help you. We all will help you. We want you to feel at home. It’s sort of our thing.