Dark shadows; bright future: Jaycees haunted house demonstrates a sense of community

img_1346By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro reporter, 9/1996

MEMORY LANE! THIS WAS MY FIRST COLUMN ABOUT THE FOXBORO JAYCEES HAUNTED HOUSE!

We are one dozen brave souls, walking through the dark passages, stumbling through the shadows. Unseen dogs bark at us as we cross a shaky bridge. Huge spiders grab at us as we make our way through cobwebs and fog. Rats squeak angrily as we slowly walk by them. In the distance, a train whistle shrieks.

On previous journeys, we’ve encountered Jack the Ripper. Killer sharks. Evil sewer-dwelling clowns. We’ve even met Sweeney Todd, the murderous barber with the extra sharp razor.

Creepy funeral directors invite us to witness the final fate of an insane criminal. Hideous monsters, some without heads, leap out and attack. We’ve spoken to ghosts haunting pubs and old theaters. We’ve seen Dracula himself, rising from the dead. We’ve witnessed a priest trying to save a little girl named Raven from the forces of darkness – and watched him fail as the evil consumed him.

Darkness surrounds us or doesn’t seem to be a light anywhere we can’t see each other, and we can’t see the walls as they twist and turn or the hidden perils that await us.

As scared as we are, we have confidence in our guides each of them: Rev. Bob: Witch Jane, Zule, Henry, Persephone, Esmeralda, or many of the others we’ve seen – seem to know this mysterious path. Their faces – which really glow green in the inky darkness –are the only thing we can see. Their brave voices – loud and strong – cry out, “Follow me this way!” Into each room we walk as the guide explains where we are. But each stop brings more danger and more terror. Will we ever make it back outside?

Welcome to the Foxboro Jaycees haunted house, one of Foxboro’s best and most anticipated annual events. As a Jaycee, I have the privilege of guiding people through the dark and winding passages at the haunted house, helping to scare the daylights out of as many people as possible, and all for a really good cause. If you’ve ever been guided through the haunted house by a bizarre wizard named Marlin that was me.

1996The Jaycee haunted house, according to this year’s chairman Joe Cataloano, is the biggest fundraiser of the year and helps fund a myriad of community activities and projects. It is also one of the largest nonprofit haunted houses in Massachusetts.

Foxboro is a better place because of the Jaycees: with a true sense of community they perform a variety of services to our town. The Jaycees are the ones who bring the concerts to Foxboro common every summer. They run the pancake breakfast. They help deliver meals to shut-ins, and assist the discretionary fund and SHARE program.

During the holidays you’ll see them putting up the Christmas decorations around town, visiting nursing homes to sing Christmas carols, assembling the common Nativity set, and selling Christmas trees. They even bring Santa Claus and the Easter bunny to Foxboro common.

The turnout for the recent fun run, benefiting Tina DiCicco, was tremendous, and raised over $13,000 for her kidney transplant.

If you’ve ever been to the haunted house you know you’ll be coming back this year. If you’ve never visited, I encourage you to come and be scared for a good cause. This year’s theme is “the haunted Museum,” so you can expect many surprises and new scares.

In response to a question I have often been asked when I guide, the Foxboro Jaycees haunted house is MUCH better than “Spooky World.” I don’t say that because I am a Jaycee. I say it because it is true.

Having been to “Spooky World” twice I can say that the acts are not as scary and not as well done or as imaginative. In addition, “Spooky World,” located in Berlin, Massachusetts is about as far from Foxboro as the planet Neptune and cost nearly $20 per person – an expensive family night out! The Jaycee haunted house is right here in town and cost only six dollars – and directly benefits Foxboro.

I really enjoy guiding people through the house. The dedication and professionalism of the Jaycees is evident everywhere – from the quality and detail of the stages, to the enthusiasm of the actors in each set who might perform the same act over 100 times a night. They always put on a good show.

Every group is different, with its own personality. I vividly remember one 11 year old boy named Billy, who informed me that, “I’m a man. You won’t scare me.” When “Pennywise the Clown” jumped out and scared Billy a few moments later we all thought the poor kid was going to have a heart attack – but he came back another night to take the tour again.

One important reminder. This is not a kiddie haunted house and is not recommended for children under the age of eight. The house is completely dark, very scary, and shockingly realistic at times. A simulated decapitation or stabbing can be VERY real to a very young child.

The Jaycee haunted house will be open on the nights of [removed; this was in 1996] admission is six dollars but look for dollar off coupons just about everywhere. The lines will be long but food and drink will be available. And at the end of the tour, I’m sure you’ll agree that it was well worth the wait.

If you’re like most people you might get right back in line to be scared all over again. Many people visit the haunted house several times a season. In fact, well over 10,000 people are guided to the house each October. While the Jaycees haunted house is one of the very best in Foxboro holiday activities, guaranteed to scare you and put you into the holiday spirit. It also benefits an excellent community organization that does tremendous good for Foxboro. Come on down to the haunted house. You’ll have a howling good time.

 

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Learn more about the greatest young person’s leadership organization in the world at www.FoxboroJaycees.org. One or more images in the post appear on the Foxboro Jaycees web site; many were taken or created by Robert Gillis and others were taken by other Jaycees – in all cases, they remain the property of whomever took the image and are used to here to show how incredibly awesome the Foxboro Jaycees are – and that you should join!