Danielle Knopik (left), 18, and Anthony Cole, 14, hung black plastic as they constructed walkways and rooms for the haunted school at the 4-H building at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds.Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist
Danielle Knopik (left), 18, and Anthony Cole, 14, hung black plastic as they constructed walkways and rooms for the haunted school at the 4-H building at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds.
Some Brainerd area teens are hoping their peers will gladly enroll during the Halloween weekend at their spooky, haunted high school, where the principal is frightening, the lunchroom offerings include body parts and fog rolls out of the bathroom toilets.
"Our Haunted School" is the theme of the sixth annual haunted house hosted by the Crow Wing County 4-H Ambassadors, Brainerd FFA, Brainerd Youth As Resources and the Brainerd High School Art Club, which painted the backdrops.
The event, planned 6 to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the 4-H building at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds, not only provides a free, fun family activity, but the teens who organize the event only ask for a non-perishable food item as an admission fee. The donated food is given to the Salvation Army food shelf.
Last year about 1,800 people visited the haunted house during its two-night run, donating about 1,700 pounds of food. This year the haunted house will be open three nights during the Halloween weekend and organizers hope to have at least 2,000 visitors who donate at least 2,000 pounds of food.
Children and teens are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes to the haunted house.
"It's going to be really scary," promised Janelle Johnson.
Johnson, 18, a 4-H Ambassador, plans to play the principal at this spooky high school. About 40 people, mostly teens, have been planning and constructing and will volunteer during the haunted house. They started construction Oct. 9 and spent the school break last week finishing the majority of construction.
Features of the haunted schoolhouse include a principal's office most students wouldn't want to be sent to, an eerie chemistry lab, a janitor's closet, a school bathroom, a gory cafeteria with students eating disgusting food, a library, a teacher's lounge, a boiler room and a wood shop class with an evil shop teacher. Scary hall monitors will roam the school, along with other creepy characters, all ideas created by teens. The haunted house also features black lights, strobe lights, scary music and more.
Adult supervisors will be positioned on a catwalk over the haunted house to make sure people are safe and security officers also will be on hand.
The teens who worked hard last week to construct the haunted house had fun, too.
"I love to scare people and I'm doing this to raise money for the food shelf," said Danielle Knopik, 18, a 4-H Ambassador. "It's important to me to make sure people are fed in Crow Wing County. It's so worth it. It's hard work to put it up but when you see the kids' faces, it's so great."
In the previous five years, the 4-H haunted house has had more than 8,500 people attend the events with food donations that totaled more than 9,000 pounds.
"I think it's really fun to put on something kids enjoy and it helps the community," said Angela Waytashek, 15. "And to be able to hang out with your 4-H friends."
"It's amazing how we can take a plain building and turn it into something awesome," added Knopik.
Johnson said the group received a $905 grant from YAR this year, which helped it purchase construction materials. She said when all is said and done, it will have taken the teens about 1,000 hours of volunteering to construct, run and tear down the haunted house.
In 1999, the 4-H Ambassadors started the haunted house as a fun and safe Halloween event for families, recognizing there was a community need for such an event. They also wanted to help families in need by stocking the Brainerd food shelf.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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