In the spring of 2010 Todd Fedyshyn approached Bill Bartlow with an idea. Both were huge fans of Halloween and in years past had set up elaborate displays to celebrate the holiday in their front yards. The proposal was to combine all their decorations and create an indoor haunted attraction at the Southern Tier Independence Center (STIC) to be a fundraiser for the agency. STIC’s Executive Director, Maria Dibble, was convinced that it was a viable proposal and agreed to grant use of the space in the facility’s basement for the project. “The Haunted Halls of Horror” was on its way to becoming a reality.
Resources were pooled and a planning committee of interested STIC employees was formed. All work would be on a voluntary basis at no cost to STIC. Over the next months scenes were set and populated with the creatures and props we had available. A synergy of lighting, soundtracks, fog, brainstorming, tickets, posters, publicity and “Scare-Actors” in makeup and costumes resulted in a surprisingly successful first season. With just over eight hundred visitors on a “make-do” budget we had created a fun Halloween attraction and raised funds fir STIC’s mission.
Well, Happy Halloween, next came 2011. It was time to take what we had learned and expand. Maria agreed. STIC’s Board of Directors approved an operating budget for the fundraiser and we were back to work at the start of the year. This was serious. When a not for profit agency invests precious funds in your project you have to come through.
We started by coming through the walls in the basement to lay out a path to our feature attractions that would encompass over eight thousand square feet. STIC volunteers spent their weekends constructing a winding labyrinth more than triple the size of 2010’s haunt. More room meant more scenes and an opportunity to include a greater variety of Halloween themes.
Creepy creativity was unleashed and unsuspected talents transformed the halls to a new level of “Haunted”.
The word was out. STIC was getting it out with radio, press, media coverage. Event posters went up over Binghamton’s Eastside. Corporate sponsors partnered with STIC pledging donations, along with private businesses and individuals. STIC staff joined volunteers from the community, Binghamton University and Broome Community College to fill our “scare-actors” roster. The halls were opened with ghosts, goblins, were-wolves, witches, the dead and undead, clowns, and all manner of bone chilling alter egos. For eight nights we howled as over two thousand people came though our doors to see what it was in STIC’s basement.
A few came through serene and smiling at the sight. Many more were startled and holding their companions tight. Screaming teenage girls ran down the halls in flight. The terrified curled against the wall or on the floor quivering in fright. And some confessed they wet their pants that night. Must be we were doing something right.
Our second annual Haunted Halls of Horror had not only been a popular success, we had surpassed the board investment to return a significant contribution to fund STIC programs.
The Haunt 2012 “We want all that and more”. That’s the plan. The third annual Haunted Halls of Horror was a huge success and everyone was very pleased with the turn out. We pushed the envolope and accomplished things we could have never dreamed of. But we are not finished yet.......
Did someone say “FIRE?” Well sure people are attracted to it, and they will be engaged by the spectacle of a dancing fire spinner with drumming accompaniment. For the third year we will again be displaying the intricate carved jackolanterns of local artist Eric Carpenter in the reception area. It is also there where we will premier a movie trailer of the Haunted Halls followed by our animatronic rocking talking skeleton, “Buckey”, with instructions and warnings for our visitors. And did someone say ZOMBIES??? Lets just say we purchased a haunted house this year from Ocean City NJ, and you have no idea what we have done with it.
“Are they static displays or will they come after us?” We will leave those brave enough to take the trip through the Haunted Halls of Horror to wonder: “Dead or Undead?”. Many volunteer scare-actors will be lurking, stalking and then suddenly making their presence known. See if they make any sense in the dungeon, or Dr. Dementa’s Head Shed. The bloody butcher will try to interest you in the special of the day. For those who didn’t make it there’s the medical examiner, the morgue, the crematorium and next the funeral parlor. Then it’s time to plant your feet and perhaps the rest of you inside the cemetery gates. Don’t be too shocked to find that not all are resting in peace. So now what? Not the end? Descend that long, dark cave to the netherworld where the master and his minions will warmly welcome you. Bet you wish you had something to drink. Don’t despair perhaps the witches in the woods before you will brew up a cup from their cauldron that will quench your thirst forever. Then again, they may roast you in their oven. Demoralized and depressed, time for some cheering up? Come one, come all, step right this way to Barker Bob’s Psycho Circus. Spin the wheel and take you chances to discover if all the clowns are creepy. Let’s see what they think is funny. Please be sure when you drive away that there are no added passengers in your vehicles. Our creatures love a wild ride.