Haunting for a cause
Jessie Doe to host 21st annual haunted house
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 11:10
For the last six weeks, the members of the Jessie Doe Activity Board have been busy at work preparing for the 21st annual Jessie Doe Haunted House, a one-night event.
There is a lot to put together in the six-week period leading up to the haunted house. The blueprints for the haunted house have to be put together, temporary walls and props have to be inventoried, permits need to be filed, the fire department needs to be met with, the police need to be contacted, advertising needs to be determined and missing props need to be created, according to sophomore Eric Brown, president of the Jessie Doe Activity Board.
The basic blueprints that are being used are the same as those that were used last year, according to sophomore Dustin MacDougall, vice president of the Jessie Doe Activity Board. The room route through the haunted house is basically the same. One room has been added and the blueprints are tweaked to match the different needs of this year’s haunted house.
The blueprints show each room, the actors and the path that the visitors will take on their tour, sophomore Chris Healy said. Then the blueprints need to go to the fire department for approval to ensure that they are safe. Sometimes, after reviewing them, the fire department requires changes to them.
The Jessie Doe Advisory Board has to obtain a haunted house permit from the Durham Fire Department for the event. In the planning stages of the haunted house, the Durham Fire Department will go on a preliminary walk-through of Jessie Doe and meet with the Jessie Doe Advisory Board, according to Jason Cleary, Durham Fire Department assistant chief. The fire department will review the decorations, make sure paper decorations are flame retardant, ensure that the fire alarms and sprinkler system are operating, that no exit signs or exit doors are blocked and that there are no trip hazards. The fire department will also check the written safety plan, since the haunted house tour guides have to help everyone out in case of an emergency, Cleary said.
The event permit for the Jessie Doe Haunted House is reviewed for potential public safety issues, Paul Dean, executive director of public safety, said. For over 10 years, Jessie Doe Hall staff and UNH Residential Life have been requesting a police detail for the Jessie Doe Haunted House. Since the haunted house is open to the community as well as to the campus, the event can draw crowds that might impose life safety issues and code issues for Jessie Doe Hall.
“Our presence helps promote a fun, but safe environment for all,” Dean said.
Healy said they are going with a zombie prison theme for this year’s haunted house. Visitors will make their donation and will be brought to the back of the hall to begin the tour through the haunted house. Two tour guides will lead separate groups through the haunt, which even includes the ghost of Jessie Doe.
All the props used in past years need to be inventoried, MacDougall said. The actors in the haunted house take on roles. According to Healy, the idea is to scare visitors, to give them a good time and to have fun. The aim is to make a haunted house that is family friendly, PG to PG-13 rated.
The sets are pre-built so that they can be set up on the day of the haunted house. Freshman Trent Uri worked on the jail doors for the haunted house. Everyone wanted to make them out of cardboard, but Uri said he felt he could bring them up a notch. At his house, Uri welded together rebar to form the jail doors, which took him about a half hour to complete, he said.
The work on the house isn’t all that goes into the preparation; there is also advertising for the event. Eight hundred fliers need to be printed up. Although the fliers have a similar format each year, they have to be redesigned for the current haunted house. There are two versions of the poster this year, and 400 of each will be hung up around campus and downtown Durham. There is also a bookmark style advert that was designed that will be passed out in Holloway Commons on the night of the haunted house. Table tents need to be set up in the dining halls and boards around campus need to be chalked.
At the final meeting before the haunted house, the Jessie Doe Activity Board needs to assign the main acting jobs, strobe light operators, and room leaders.
Sophomore Erica Dota is a first-time actor this year, and she said she is excited because she has never been part of anything like this.
“People who come to a haunted house want to be scared, so I hope we can put on a good enough haunted house where we do scare them,” Dota said.
Healy was an actor in last year’s haunted house. Scaring people isn’t malicious, that’s what they are there for, he said. It puts them in the Halloween spirit. The haunted house is a lot of fun for both those performing and those attending.
“I am confident in everything that my team has accomplished and I know that the event will be a huge success,” Brown said.
“While there is still a long day ahead of us and 12 hours of manual labor, acting and hosting, the hard and crazy work of imagining, planning, advertising, fabricating, organizing, compromising and just plain getting along is almost over [for this event] and I’m so excited and proud to see what they have created in six weeks’ time through this process on Friday,” Michelle Blanchette, Jessie Doe hall director, said.