Swarms of guests of all ages warily entered the ghastly entrance of the Humane Society’s first haunted Halloween fundraiser “Nightmare Manor.”
Starting from the gated entrance of the grounds, guests meandered the path dotted with horrific animatronic figures and displays that frightened small children and adults alike.
The production was the brainchild of Carole Arbour, who has a passion for Halloween and sits on the Humane Society’s Events Committee. Arbour’s vision for a community event like no other Halloween spectacle on the island was fulfilled in part by a handful of dedicated volunteers, sponsors and Chair of the Fundraising Committee Dellia Holodenschi, who did a large part of the organizing.
“Everything was really Carole’s vision,” Holodenschi said. “Like the two gargoyles at the gate, she wanted that. And then zombie land coming in on the right, and then you have the skeletons on the left and then the cauldron keeper coming up. I mean, there was a lot that went into it and there were some things that just couldn’t be produced with the time span involved. But down to the last detail we tried to execute that vision.”
Arbour purchased and donated to the event many of the animatronics and décor, while volunteers worked on erecting and staging all displays and interactive exhibits.
“I always wanted to do something that was good for kids to raise money for the shelter. So I thought this could be a good combination where children, families and teenagers could come to have a good time and enjoy themselves all while raising money,” Arbour said.
Severed heads, full-scale skeletal figures and deteriorating bodies littered the land leading to three grand walk-through exhibits near the end of the trail. Guests were pushed to their limits walking through a foggy graveyard complete with realistic-looking ghosts.
“I think that the beauty of the entire thing is that you are unleashing the imagination, you are able to open up their minds,” Holodenschi said.
Two large tents were designed for maximum scariness, playing off common fears. The spider cave was complete with webs to walk through and animated spiders that popped out from nooks and crannies.
The swamp was a favorite of many participants who found themselves screaming as they attempted to navigate a foggy room with green lasers that cast an eerie glow.
“I think the swamp is really amazing with the swamp man. It is really fantastic just the creation of that whole illusion,” Holodenschi said.
On Wednesday evening, Culture Shock, a young moko jumbie group, performed for a crowd of onlookers. The children stood over six feet tall and gave the production a Halloween ambiance that could only be experienced in the Caribbean.
Pizza, hot dogs, burgers, cupcakes and other snacks were also served, which Holodenschi said sponsors like Bellows International and the West Indies Corporation helped supply.
“Every little segment is important. It’s kind of like the spokes of a wheel, if you are missing one element then you don’t have the whole picture. Everything has worked well. All the ideas and thoughts that we had materialized,” Holodenschi said.
Both Holodenschi and Arbour are hoping that the new event is an annual occurrence, but it will require support from the community and more volunteers next year.
“Our volunteers are actually the ones who made it all happen because you can’t do anything like this without a huge cast and we didn’t have a huge cast, just a few very dedicated volunteers who we were very grateful to,” Holodenschi said.
To volunteer for next year’s Halloween event the community is urged to contact Holodenschi at the Humane Society. The organization is also accepting donations of Halloween decorations.
“Hopefully next year we can do even more,” Arbour said.