When the lights of the Bellefonte YMCA turned off, 7-year-old J.J. Rudy gasped, and then grasped his father’s hand.
Within a couple seconds, the lights turned back on, to the relief of J.J. and John Rudy.
About 50 kids were split into four groups and told to be part of a “mystery tour” to find a Halloween cake that went missing. Each group went from room to room at the YMCA on West High Street with a mission to defeat a villain in each room, who then provided the groups with a clue to where the cake was.
The activity was part of a Scooby-Doo!-themed Halloween event, planned by Kathleen Raupach’s event planning class at Penn State.
The family-friendly Halloween party is an annual event at the YMCA, but this was first time it was organized by a group of Penn State students for a class project.
It included about a dozen children’s activities based around “Scooby-Doo” that had food and drinks, an obstacle course, mystery tour, arts, crafts and more, and encouraged children and their parents to dress up.
“It was one of those things where I thought, ‘what was my favorite cartoon growing up,’ and ‘Scooby-Doo’ came to mind,” said Jason Smith, who was part of the marketing committee for the class project. “We got together and came up with activities that were like ‘Scooby-Doo’ and the mystery group.”
Raupach said eight students were divided into three groups — marketing, logistics and sponsorship — and teamed up with businesses and organizations to help sponsor the event.
For the YMCA, it was a chance to have a few more helping hands.
“It was mutually beneficial,” said Steve Greecher, aquatics and youth director. “We’re getting help to put on the event and show the community what we’re all about, and they’re getting real world experience.”
The goal was to attract about 50 guests for the night. Within the first 45 minutes, 50 people were already registered.
“We’re really happy with the turnout,” said junior Renny Parthemore, a professional golf management major who was part of the class’s marketing committee. “We worked all semester on it, and it’s nice to see our work come together.”
The class met three times a week at Penn State, while the groups averaged about 20 hours a week outside of class to prepare for the event.
“We walked around town to get the word out and worked with some local businesses that let us put up signs, and it really allowed us to be out in the community doing our thing,” Parthemore said.
For families, it was a place to celebrate Halloween in a safe and fun environment.
“We missed trick-or-treating because we were out of town, but this gave us a nice chance to do something different on Halloween,” said Susan Ann Mothersbaugh, who brought her daughters, Macie and Meaghan, to the event.
The girls, on the other hand, said they just wanted to show off their costumes from the Disney movie, “Frozen.”
Raupach said her classes partner each semester with different businesses and organizations to plan public events.
“It’s something we’re always working on and developing new ideas for,” she said.