Even though Lemont’s Haunted Granary is off-limits to ghouls for good and the Towers of Terror stayed shuttered this year (there was just no time this year, said Towers organizer Denise Shultz), there are still plenty of events for all of Halloween’s big fans, regardless of terror threshold.
“Our tour guides share stories and legends not told during the reglar tour,” said Terri Schleiden, Penn’s Cave’s marketing director. “As far as lighting goes, we use very little lighting, other than the guide’s spotlight. There’s only one room that we slightly illuminate, which is why we invite people to bring flashlights.”
The 2-year-old, 4,800-square-foot maze is dark enough to unnerve any visitor, but the themes are no ttraumatizing, Schleiden said.
“This is family friendly, so it’s not violent; there are no gruesome or bloody characters. The characters we do have are ghosts, but we explain to parents of young children that they will not touch you or come close to you,” Schleiden said. “There’s nothing worse than having a child so frightened that he will not sleep for a week. We give them a special code to say to ghosts to stay away.”
Reservations for the flashlight tour are encouraged.
“Last year, someone peed themself. (An event volunteer) was walking around in line scaring people and (the patron) didn’t even make it inside. We’ve had a lot of people get terrified,” club President Matt Curran said.
“Everyone has a story about when they scared someone so good something happened,” he said. “Especially if you recognize someone, people go all out to try to scare them as much as possible to get the best response out of them.”
The house’s scenes include popular names among serial killers, including Jigsaw, of the “Saw” movie franchise, and Jack the Ripper, fitting because forensic science students are taught to assess mock crime scenes and analyze blood patterns.
“One course features setting up mock crime scenes with authentic blood spatters, and a lot of volunteers have taken that class or a demo version of it, which helps them with setup and making the scenes look scary and realistic,” Curran said.
Curran said he’s not afraid that people will decide instead to haunt Penn State School of Theatre’s Dead State, at the Pavilion Theatre.
“I know there’s another (haunted attraction at Penn State)every year,” Curran said. But this year, the club is collaborating with engineering students. “We’re hoping they give us an edge. ... (but) we’re finding that both haunted houses can exist.”
“I walked my grandma through last year and she’s in her 90s,” Bub Murarik said. “Some kids freak out the whole way through. Some laugh and giggle, some turn around halfway and leave. We give younger kids Glow Sticks so we can see them coming” and know not to chase them with a (fake) chainsaw.
For families whose younger ones get cold feet, there will be a supervised play area with games and treats.
Murarik said 100 percent of any monetary donations will benefit a local cause. This year’s event will benefit veteran and Philipsburg resident John Kennedy, who sustained a back injury in a fall from a roof, but past years’ beneficiaries include the Rowland Theatre, the Centre County Youth Service Bureau and cancer survivor Emily Whitehead.
With Murarik’s event gaining word-of-mouth traction, the event is “definitely getting bigger. Last year we had 1,600 people in two days. It has to be the best free haunted house around,” he said.
Carn-“Evil,” 6-9 p.m. Oct. 30, Centre Region Senior Center, 131 S. Fraser St., State College. www.crpr.org.