Haunted house raising funds for WC’s Big Blue Band

Published 9:54 am Friday, October 21, 2016

Are you scared of the dark?

Do goblins, ghosts and ghouls send a shiver down your spine?

If you visit the Vicksburg Mall within the next few weeks, you’re going to need to ask yourself those questions. Be warned; the dark could be hiding some unexpected visitors.

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In its fifth year, Valhalla’s Frightmare Haunted House is prepared to provide some Halloween fright today and Saturday and Oct. 28 through Oct. 31 at the old Goody’s location in the mall, 3505 Pemberton Square Boulevard.

The main fundraiser for Warren Central High School’s Big Blue Band, the haunted house is put on by band boosters and band members each year.

Without giving too much away, this year’s spooktacular event focuses on famous scenes from scary movies, Bill Meredith, one of about 10 parents charged with putting together the haunted house, said.

“It’ll be something to get their blood going,” he said.

John Byrne, whose son is in the band, has charge of lighting this year and said this is the year to visit the haunted house because many aspects, like location, remain up in the air for next year.

“This is definitely going to be the most intense haunted house that Vicksburg has ever seen, and I do mean that,” Byrne said. “You know that when a person builds a prop, turns back and flips a switch on the prop, and then the man who built it runs. That happened a few weeks ago.”

Meredith said the goal is to get more than a few screams out of the crowd and everyone has been hard at work to achieve just that.

“It’s been a long build,” he said of the two months they’ve been working on the house, which will provide a quarter of a mile’s worth of scares.

“It’s not just something to build in a week. We always end up doing something a little different every year.”

Last year the haunted house was held in the mall’s old Piccadilly’s location, and this year’s move to the old Goody’s also includes some new props and more than a few mirrors and mannequins that were already in the store.

“We utilize whatever we can. We do have to buy some things. You have to, but many of the props are donated,” Meredith said, noting that this year’s build has been expensive due to all the wood needed to create the corridors.

He added safety is a top priority at the haunted house. This year’s event is 90 percent wheelchair accessible and off-duty police officers and paramedics will be present each night, he said.

“A lot of us also have CPR certifications. We have our own access points to get somebody out if needed,” he added.

Noel Tello, who, along with Meredith, is one of the main organizers for the event, described the haunted house as a collaboration.

“These are all just ideas out of everybody’s heads. There’s no blueprint for it,” Tello said. “It’s really about watching kids have good fun in a safe environment and this goes toward a great organization. With all the budget cuts and stuff that schools have been going through, they need our help, and that’s what band boosters are for.”

The haunted house will be open today and Saturday and Friday, Oct. 28, through Monday, Oct. 31, from 6 p.m. until midnight with a $10 per person admission fee.

A less scary version for young children, called Chicken and Children, will be held Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m. with a $5 per child admission fee and adults escorting young children receiving free admission.