Students love frightening work at haunted house
Published 6:00 am Tuesday, October 30, 2018
By ALAYSIA ORTIZ
Boyle County High School
As Halloween is fast approaching, temperatures are dropping, fall decorations are emerging and haunted houses are opening for business. Another sure sign of fall is the chance for teenagers to seek seasonal employment.
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At this time of the year, opportunities arise for thrill-seeking teenagers to gravitate to haunted houses to have a small part-time job while having a good time with friends. One haunted house in particular has drawn the attention of many students looking for a chance to scare their peers. Every year from late September to early November, the Hustonville Haunted House in Junction City employs middle- and high-school students to frighten patrons of all ages.
Approximately 25 people, including 11 Boyle students, work at the house on a regular night. This number of workers is necessary with entry lines sometimes stretching out into the nearby road on weekends. Owner and manager Paul Grey describes the sometimes overwhelming attendance: “Weekend to weekend it varies, but for an overall attendance number, we will see several thousand people come through the haunted house this season.”
While attendance numbers have always been high, a recent addition for the older thrill-seekers has increased numbers significantly. A feature called After Hours allows participants a full horror experience on Saturday night from 12:30 a.m. until the last group leaves, intended for adults 18 years or older. Patrons may be grabbed, separated from their groups, introduced to snakes and
tarantulas, and even placed in a coffin, where a mouse or two might roam.
Grey explains how this idea originated. “Two years ago I went to a haunted house convention. That was the new thing in the haunted industry was ‘After Hours.’ People were seeking a new thrill, a new level of scare. So we looked into the After Hours part and decided to give it a shot and get into the full contact, hands-on.
“People’s senses are already really magnified by just being scared, but add in your sight, your touch, your smell and someone grabbing you, and it just takes it to a whole new level.”
Participating in these outlandish activities are the students who return each year because of the fun they have working as disturbing and horrifying characters. These employees can choose to be an actor, a makeup artist or both.
Senior Sara Howard, a three-season employee, was encouraged to apply for a position by a close friend. “When I first met my fiancé Kory, he said he had worked there the year before and really loved it. He had a lot of fun and thought it was really cool.
“It’s a different experience than what you would normally get from a regular job. I love doing makeup and special effects makeup so I thought I could put that to use. It’s really fun because you kind of create this little family and everyone kind of supports everyone else.”
Fellow co-worker Sidnee Slone, a BCHS junior, was encouraged by her mother to begin working at the haunted house. “I was originally just going to post ads online and do special effects makeup for money on Halloween, and then my mom suggested I work at a haunted house doing special effects. I was talking to the owner and he told me that I would get paid more if I did acting, so I went with that.
“My favorite part is just how nice everyone is, and some of the groups that come through just really make me laugh.”
Another seasoned haunted house family member, freshman Serenity Lear, also enjoys being around the people who work there. “We all act like one giant family. Some people have their own personal problems with each other, but in the end, we’re one giant family. We take care of each other.”
As for the teens and adults entering and exiting the haunted house, many stories of their experiences have been shared. Some are terrified, while others are more desensitized to all they encounter.
Junior Reese Smith visited the Hustonville Haunted House for the first time this fall. “It was fun. Me and a bunch of guys went up there. All the actors were good and it was really long. You had to kind of feel your way around to find your way out of the haunted house, and at the end it had this illusion. So all around it was pretty good.”
This illusion became his favorite part. “You get in this little ball pit and this clown kind of leads you through it. You gotta watch your step, but it’s also kind of fun because you feel like something’s going to grab your ankle.”
If you wish to visit this haunted house family before this season is over, you can do so until Nov. 3. Remaining hours are Friday from 7:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 7:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. After Hours are 12:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Saturday night. The cost is $15 for regular hours and $25 for After Hours.