By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
ELYSBURG — The annual Elysburg Haunted House is so “Frightastic,” the attraction has had people — literally — get the crap scared out of them, said Harvey Boyer, president and assistant chief of the Elysburg Fire Department.
The haunted house open Oct. 11, and this year’s “Frightastic” theme should keep the haunted house’s reputation going strong, with plenty of new spooks, though Boyer wouldn’t go into much detail.
“If we can say anything, it’s ‘beware of the butcher,’” he said.
Planning for the attraction - which draws thousands of visitors per year and requires between 60 and 80 volunteers to run each night - begins in August, when a committee meets to discuss ideas and confirm plans, Boyer said.
“We will go over things from ideas to safety, to clarifying the dates and getting an idea of what we want to accomplish as far as our long term goals,” he said.
This year, six of the house’s 18 rooms are new and about 400 feet has been added to the entrance path leading to the house, Boyer said. The event also has added six food stands and a souvenir stand featuring T-shirts for “survivors.”
Popular scares like “the swamp” and the chainsaw spooks prowling the entrance line will return to frighten guests as well, Boyer said.
But the main focus of the attraction - which benefits the Elysburg and Ralpho Township Fire Departments - is safety, Boyer said.
“We’ve put a lot of safety measures within the house,” he said. “There’s an emergency lighting system throughout the house and just to be safe there are certain areas where there are emergency doors or stairs.”
The organizing committee also meets with volunteers to discuss scare techniques and safety measures, before doing a run-through to test out the precautions, Boyer said. Part of that training is helping some of the younger actors learn when to back off of a scare.
“The trick to a scare is one to three seconds,” he said. “When you have someone who is absolutely frightened, you have to understand that you go a little bit with that person, but then you let them go.”
That also helps keep the large crowds flowing through the house, Boyer said.
And behind the make-up, costumes and strobe lights, there is group of people that comes together each fall to put on the attraction - a group Boyer said is “like a family.”
“We have people who had there first date here and now their children are working at the haunted house,” he said. “We have people who met at the haunted house ... There’s some cool things that are working behind-the-scenes.”