Guest Written by Elizabeth Lilley
Teen & Adult Programmer, Pope County Library System
This year, the Pope County Library will host its 5th annual Haunted House. Since 2013 this event has provided an opportunity for teens to work together, reach out to the community, and get hands-on experience with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) concepts. The haunted house has always been a teen-driven event; they literally conceive, design, build, and run the haunted house each year. This provides a great opportunity for students to earn much-needed volunteer hours while still having fun.
Each year, the haunted house has a different theme. This theme is chosen by the Teen Advisory Board (T.A.B.) at one of their monthly meetings. The T.A.B. is instrumental in all phases of the Haunted house, from planning to tear-down. They are the go-getters and the idea generators that make sure the haunted house is a spine-chilling experience year after year.
In 2013, evil librarians cackled in The Library of the Dead. The inmates ran the mad-house in the 2014 Asylum Haunted House. The scope broadened in 2015 with the introduction of Fearscape, a haunted house fueled by nightmares and all the worst parts of a carnival, from killer clowns to a frightening freak-show. Last year, in 2016, favorite fables and fairy tales took on shocking twists in Once Upon a Nightmare.
In 2017, the Fearscape theme returns, this time focusing on phobias. There will be a devilish doctor, demonic dolls, and, of course, creepy clowns. However, it is hard to say exactly what will happen. As the haunted house is built, plans change to best suit the space, available resources, and skills of the volunteers. The theme works as a guide, providing direction, but no one knows exactly how the Haunted House will play out until days before it opens. This dynamic aspect ensures that the haunted house is always flexible, current, and engaging.
Each year, the haunted house grows and evolves into something bigger and better. Last year, over 1,000 people were involved over the course of the 14 days of building and performance either by helping behind the scenes as performers or as participants going through the haunted house. Donations from attendees helped to raise over $200 for teen programming at the Pope County Library. In 2015, 38 Arkansas Tech students volunteered to be a part of the haunted house by building and performing all while earning required volunteer hours. Each year the haunted house helps to draw new people in and continues to engage veteran volunteers.
The construction of the haunted house starts with a planning meeting at the end of September to pin down as many details as possible before the actual building begins on October 15. In October, two weeks are dedicated to building the haunted house, collecting props, finalizing makeup and costume design, and recruiting volunteers to perform.
This year, the haunted house will be open for two nights. It’s non-stop scares from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. on both Saturday, October 28 and Halloween, Tuesday, October 31. Admission is free but a minimum donation of $1 per person is encouraged, though, more is always welcome.
If you would like to help make this year’s haunted house a success, there are many ways to contribute. While the Haunted House is teen-driven, volunteers of all ages are welcome to participate. Volunteers are needed to build, paint, make props, assist with makeup and effects, and perform as characters in the haunted house. None of our haunted houses would have been possible without donations. Items we need this year include cardboard (refrigerator boxes and the like), paint, dolls (the creepier the better), plastic bugs and snakes, and other Halloween décor. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Pope County Library at 968-4368.
Guest Written by Elizabeth Lilley