LINDSAY MEWHINEY, For the Independent
The haunted house that runs at Elmira District Secondary School each fall has become a Halloween tradition for both the students of the school and members of the community.
However, the 13-year tradition was jeopardized this October when funding for the event was threatened.
In previous years, the Woolwich Observer, in conjunction with the Kin Club of Woolwich, and several other organizations and sponsors, had been a main provider of funding for the haunted house, however were unable to do so for this October’s Halloween event.
So as not to see an end put to the long-running Halloween tradition that typically drew crowds of between 400 and 500 children, it was the Township of Woolwich that stepped in and provided funding for the event this fall.
In a media release from the Township of Woolwich, Mayor Todd Cowan stated that the township “felt it was imperative to save the festival in light of their shortage of funding due to a lost sponsor.”
Drama teacher at EDSS, DJ Carroll, who has been involved with the haunted house for 11 years, says that the Kin Club of Woolwich and the EDSS drama department didn’t want to see the event stop running due to a lack of funds.
“Unfortunately, nobody was in a position to pay for candy and treats, and some of the props for the event,” says Carroll, “So the township, this year, came in and said they would help us out, to keep the event going and get us back on track.”
The Woolwich Township contributed $1,000 towards the haunted house, to get it back up and running, in special, one-time funding assistance, while the Kin Club will be donating food for the event, as well as approximately $300 to cover the costs of decorations.
The haunted house is an opportunity for students to collect their mandatory 40 high school volunteer hours, as well as an opportunity to connect and work with their fellow students and members of the community.
This year, there is an abundance of students that are involved in the planning and execution of the haunted house, with close to 60 already signed up to volunteer.
“I think there’s about 57 students right now that are involved; they help run games, they’re tour guides, they’re monsters in the haunted house, they help set up, and help tear down,” Carroll says of the student involvement.
This year’s haunted house takes place at EDSS on Oct. 20, from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m., with a barbecue happening from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. There will be a Halloween themed movie playing in the cafeteria, as well as a variety of spooky games for younger children.
The haunted house also supports local families in need; each year, cash and non-perishable food donations are collected at the haunted house and barbecue for food banks in the region, as well as any donations to help keep the haunted house free for years to come.