Jaycees’ Haunted House returns

by Tom Coombe

The Ely Jaycees have turned Hidden Valley into their own high school.<BR><BR>Their own Haunted High School.<BR><BR>With Halloween fast approaching, it’s time for the local service organization’s annual Haunted House, and both children and adults are invited to go through the house of horrors for what organizers say will be a frighteningly good time.<BR><BR>The scares and special effects start at 7 p.m. Friday, with additional performances the following evening and Halloween night, Sunday Oct. 31.<BR><BR>A seasonal hit since its inception in 1997, the 2004 event takes on a new look with props, characters and the interior patterned after a high school - with more than a few special effects.<BR><BR>“It’s going to be made up just like a high school,” said Rob Wilmunen, one of about a dozen Jaycees members preparing for the event. “There will be things you might see at a high school.”<BR><BR>The Jaycees don’t want to spoil the fun - or the fear - by divulging many other details about the haunted house experience.<BR><BR>“Each room has its own set of surprises,” said Wilmunen.<BR><BR>Finishing touches will be made at Hidden Valley this week and a “dry run” of sorts will be held prior to the event.<BR><BR>Those paying the $5 admission price will be led through by club guides.<BR><BR>And while the show is set up to scare teens and adults who make their way through and encounter ghosts, goblins and school staff unique only to Ely’s Haunted High School, Jaycees members stress the event can be fun for young children, as well.<BR><BR>“We want it to be an enjoyable experience,” said Wilmunen.<BR><BR>Tickets will be available at the door all three nights, with the $5 admission price applied for all ages. Hours are from 7 to 10 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, and from 7 to 9 p.m. Halloween night.<BR><BR>The Jaycees have set aside proceeds from previous Haunted House events for youth activities and items including new playground equipment at Semers Park, and revenues from this year’s event will also go to community youth projects.<BR><BR>As many as 20 club members are needed in order to run the event each night, but those putting the Haunted House together say that membership involvement hasn’t been a problem.<BR><BR>“Each year hundreds of people of all ages come through our haunted houses, with tremendous feedback.” said Wilmunen. “Our organization really enjoys putting this event on. Some have said we have more fun than the visitors. The entire cast especially gets pumped for a screaming group of high school girls - they are our favorite.  We get lots of college kids too - they seem to have plenty of fun also.”<BR><BR>