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Grimm’s Haunted Hall a spooky success

November 7, 2014

Grimm’s “Haunted Hall” put screaming to a good cause on Halloween to raise money and gather food donations for “Turning Point,” a River Falls shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Planning for the event started back in September during the first staff meeting for Grimm Hall and McMillan Hall. This was the second year that McMillan Hall staff members teamed up with Grimm Hall staff members to put on the event, according to Annalissa Miller, the complex director for Grimm and McMillan Hall.

Annalissa Miller, Grimm and McMillan Hall complex director, takes donations for Turning Point before people enter the Haunted Hall.
Annalissa Miller, Grimm and McMillan Hall complex director, takes donations for Turning Point before people enter the Haunted Hall. (Carmella Everhart/Student Voice)

Miller said that resident assistants from the neighboring dorms split up into partners, claimed a room in the basement of Grimm Hall and began to brainstorm ideas.

“They go through the process of making a blueprint for the room, making lists for everything they need, supply-wise, and go through our supply closet that we have,” Miller said.

All the props and decorations for the event were bought through the Residence Hall Association and the hall council checking accounts.

“This year it cost us $1,000,” Miller said. “In the past we have bought cheaper props and stuff then we throw them all away and so this year we spent more money to build cages and stuff so that they’ll last for a while.”

Once the plans for the rooms were complete, volunteers were found to do the scaring and costumes were made. Between the resident assistants, volunteers, family members, and complex council members, about 75 people helped execute the event, according to Miller. On the day of the event, people began to decorate the basement as early as 7:30 a.m. Most of the basement couldn’t be decorated until the day of the event in order to keep the rooms accessible to residents.

By 8 p.m. on Halloween, people stood in a line that wrapped around half of the entire first floor of Grimm Hall and waited to donate $2 or a nonperishable food or hygiene product to the front desk before being allowed into the Haunted Hall.

This year, students got creative with their scaring techniques; some of the rooms even had story lines.

A tour guide led groups of five to eight people down to the basement where dark mazes, masked creatures and creepy dolls awaited the groups.

Taylor Byrnes, a Resident Assistant in Grimm Hall, said the maze she created was meant to make people feel claustrophobic and leave no room to hide from the freaks in cages.

“We went with the theme ‘freak show’ since American Horror Story just came out with that theme for their new season,” Byrnes said.

Holly Voigts, a UWRF student, said she gets scared easily and loves the Haunted Hall. “I love it because it’s super fun and thrilling,” Voigts said.

Safety is a priority for everyone involved in the Haunted Hall. In order to make sure everyone is safe, a fire chief and a police chief walk through the finished Haunted Hall to make sure it meets the safety requirements. Water is provided to all the volunteers to make sure they do not overheat while scaring people, according to Miller.

Transforming the basement of Grimm Hall into a spooky maze of rooms is a long-standing tradition at UW-River Falls, but Miller said she doesn’t know how long the tradition of the Haunted Hall stands because there is no documentation of when it began.

“We know for sure it’s more than 25 years because the last person that we were in contact with worked here 25 years ago so he did it and it was going before him but he wasn’t around,” Miller said.

This year, Grimm’s Haunted Hall had 135 people pay for the event, making the total money raised to be $270, and 200 people donated food and hygiene products, according to Miller. That’s about 100 more people than last year, raising the bar for the event in the future.