EAST LIVERPOOL - Lots of scary surprises await visitors to the annual Jaycees Haunted House, which will open for the season at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 in the former Elks Lodge on Fifth Street.
This is the second year that building owner Craig Newbold has allowed it to be used by the Jaycees at no cost except utilities. The group has been putting on the annual scare fest since 1977, starting in the former Crooks warehouse.
After many years at its Orchard Grove location, the house was moved to Thompson Park for a year, then the YMCA - also owned by Newbold - and then last year to the Elks Lodge.
One of the scenes at this year’s Jaycees Haunted House in East Liverpool is viewed by Craig Newbold, owner of the former Elks Lodge where the annual event is being held. Actors shown are (from left) Brandon Rexroad, Susan Watkins and Jeremy Fickle. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert)
The building's many levels and a maze of 28 rooms provide the perfect backdrop for this year's "Fear Facility" theme, and visitors will find an entirely different series of montages.
Without spoiling the scare factor by being too specific, committee Chairman Dawne Bednarek said visitors will find "lots of surprises" once they enter a thick vault door.
Except for the ever-popular chain saw massacre room, everything is different, according to Bednarek. And even though repeat customers may think the chain saw room is old hat, they might find a few surprises there to keep them screaming.
More than 30 people have been working on the scenes since July, including volunteers from the Beaver Local National Honor Society, with Bednarek saying, "East Liverpool's NHS is more than welcome to do it, too."
Last year, $2,000 was spent on wood for the various scenes, and another $3,000 was spent this year to make even more scary scenarios.
With visitors' safety a foremost concern, the building has been inspected and approved by the fire department, and the city police department does patrol, with Bednarek pointing out the lodge is located "literally on the main street."
Corners have been padded to guard against any sharp edges, and two volunteer firefighters and a paramedic, as well as a security staff will be on site every night.
The Haunted House is accomplished through hundreds of hours of volunteer work, and this year two of the junior Jaycee members have played an instrumental part, according to officials.
Jeremy Fickle, junior president, and Laken Anderson, chapter manager vice president of the junior chapter, have put in many hours.
Fickle said his interest stems from his love of horror movies, while Anderson said, "I just like creepy things in general."
A new banner outside will draw the eye of visitors, and, at this writing, plans were still uncertain whether last year's outdoor video screen will be posted above the entrance again this year.
Bednarek promised "a must-see attraction, guaranteed to please," while Nick Young was a bit more down-to-earth, advising with a smile, "Bring a change of pants."
More than 2,500 visitors are expected to come through the house this year, and Bednarek said it is the Jaycees' largest fund raiser for the year, providing money for such projects as the Easter egg hunt, Special Olympics, Relay for Life, Pottery Festival, the Christmas parade and city clean ups.
After the opening night on Tuesday from 7-10 p.m., Haunted House hours will be 7-10 p.m. each Thursday and 7-11 p.m. each Friday and Saturday through October, with the house open every night the week of Halloween.
A Haunt for a Cure for Relay for Life will be held Nov. 1, and the last night will be Nov. 2, both nights from 7-11 p.m.
The cost is $10 per person. There will be no children's matinee this year.