COVID-19 leaves people worried about Halloween festivities


photo by Zoey Hayes

Journalist Zoey Hayes with scare actors from the Boo Crew Haunted House and the Baldwin Asylum. Hayes visited the attractions last year, prior to COVID.

To most haunted attractions, COVID-19 is more of a scare than the attractions themselves, but the Boo Crew Haunted House pushes to keep their gates open. Located in Mechanicsburg and open since 2000, the attraction features an outside haunted trail as well as an indoor haunted house which changes in theme each year.

The establishment is owned and operated by the Rochester Lions Club and is a 100% charity organization, meaning all of the workers are volunteers.

“We have about 75-100 volunteers per night working at the Haunted House. There are also additional volunteers that come throughout the year to help with the building of the haunt each year,” Shelly Conner, a member of the Rochester Lions Club, said.

The haunted trail in years prior consisted of more props than scare actors. With the haunted house portion not available this year, it’s safe to assume there would be add-ons to the trail, making it excessively creepy.

“The trail is longer with more scares and scaractors [sic] than before. I am not sure about the actual length, but it would probably take about 10 minutes or so,” Conner said.

When thinking about haunted attractions, you usually think about the makeup and masks they wear. A lot of questions arise with this thought. What about makeup artists? Will they wear PPE masks with their makeup or spooky mask? Will they wear them under?

“Some do and some wear them over their masks, in a creepy way. Actors are all required to be in masks, which were provided to them (if they didn’t have their own) before the haunt started. They are to do their own makeup, hair and costumes prior to coming out to the haunt.  We make sure to follow all COVID guidelines and social distancing,” Conner said.

At the Boo Crew, there is a place where people stand and wait in a line to be able to access the trail and haunted house. As we all know, social distancing is a stellar way to keep everyone safe, but how will the Boo Crew handle this?

“An outbreak is a concern for everyone, these days. We are doing all we can to keep our volunteers and patrons safe while allowing them some “normalcy” and fun. We are only selling tickets in packs of 4, 5 or 6 people per group. We have a set number of groups we send through every 15 minutes, so this cuts down on the amount of wait time,” Conner said.  “We have temperature checks and ask that people arrive no more than 5 minutes before their ticket time. We also have signs and request social distancing. Everyone is also required to wear a mask at the haunt.”

Since the Boo Crew is a 100% charity organization, they donate the money raised to over 36 charities in the area. You can find these listed on their website, along with more information, pictures, and ticket prices. Another terrifying choice would be the Baldwin Asylum located in Rantoul. They are super spooky and tickets are available online on their website.

For those wanting to celebrate Halloween from the comfort of their own home, throw on your favorite horror film, turn the lights off and grab a snack. Those with children that will miss out on trick-or-treating, try to decorate the inside of your home, hide little candy bags around the house, turn off the lights, and encourage your children to use flashlights to hunt for their candy, almost like a spooky Easter egg hunt.