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Local students host haunted house


October 25, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Students J.D. Finch, left, and Haley Mullins act out a scene during a dress rehearsal for the Arlington High School Air Force JROTC's annual haunted house on Oct. 21

The Arlington High School Air Force JROTC has constructed a Harry Potter-themed haunted forest for this year's haunted house on Oct. 27 and 28.

The local Air Force JRTOC has offered a free haunted house for the last couple of years to get the local community into the Halloween spirit.

The event is at Arlington Vision Therapy at 5906 Cemetery Road, from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., both days.

The haunted house is meant for all ages, and families from around the community are invited.

Students said that the community likes to have a haunted house close to their home.

"They like having a good scare and they like that there is a local haunted house," said Emma Szondy, Airman First Class with JROTC and stage manager this year.

The event is free, although the suggested donation is $5 per person.

"Most haunted houses cost at least a couple of dollars, we have donation only," said Blythe O'Brannigan, Airman First Class and director of the house this year.

In addition to donations, visitors can purchase Sorting Hat cupcakes, which will show which Harry Potter Hogwarts house you belong to after you bite into them.

Other Harry Potter related goodies like Butter Beer and golden snitch shaped candies will also be available.

Funds raised go to help the JROTC.

"We're raising money for JROTC to travel to competitions, and some of it is going back into the haunted house for next year," said Szondy.

The haunted house was an idea that grew from a former student with the JROTC who wanted to show people a more casual side of the program in addition to the work they do as color guard and marching in parades.

"It was actually my introduction to the fun side of JROTC," said Szondy, who said it helped her break out of her small group and interact with the program as a whole.

"I liked getting to know people in JROTC," she said.

O'Brannigan was drawn into the community around the event as well.

"What drew me toward it is to do makeup because I love doing ugly, gross, bloody makeup," she said. "As I did it more, I got attached to helping the people and the roles ,. It was a very fun experience and I want to keep doing it."

Others said they enjoyed the camaraderie of putting it together as well.

"I like hanging out with everybody and it's fun to scare people," said Caleb Palmer, Cadet Senior Airman with the JROTC.

When the idea was originally proposed, JROTC officials said that students should go for it, but said that it would be the student's responsibility.

The haunted houses now are largely put together by the students with help from parents.

"It's all made by teenagers and all set up by teenagers, so the fact that people that young could create this is a good sign," said O'Brannigan.

"We put a lot of work into this," said Cheylynn Shellabarger, Staff Sergeant with the JROTC and prop designer for the haunted house.

"We have destroyed many pieces of clothing and a lot of money goes into this," she said. "Most of the props you see when you walk through I was in charge of in some way."

The haunted house takes about two months of planning from students.

"Eventually it comes together, but it's always that final few weeks where we're rushing," said O'Brannigan.

Once it comes together, many students said they enjoyed getting a scare out of people.

"When you hear the people scream, it means it's working. What you put your time and effort in is working," said Shellabarger.

Students wanted to thank anyone who supports the local Air Force JROTC by stopping by.

"I appreciate everyone who stops by and gives a donation. It really helps out our corps," said O'Brannigan.


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