Oct 27, 2009

Scaremare: A creative way to witness

by Cheryl Cooper

Screams echoed in the night and pierced the cold as thousands of Liberty students waited Thursday night to enter Scaremare, an abandoned mansion transformed into a haunted house with a purpose.

October is the month when cackling witches, black cats and the colors orange and black can be seen everywhere. At Scaremare, however, there is precious little of these. Instead, different displays feature a demented bunny on stilts, swinging chainsaws and a room with strobe lights, among other attractions.

“Simply stated, Scaremare presents fun house rooms and scenes of death in order to confront people with the question, ‘What happens after I die?’” according to scaremare.com.

The answer at the end of the day, according to the volunteers, can go one of two ways: heaven or hell. To that end, Scaremare is used as a way to reach the masses and have some fun with it in the process.

“Twenty thousand people come through the house,” Liberty alumni Dr. Richard Brown said. “Most of them … have no relationship with Christ whatsoever. That’s why we do it.”

Many of the volunteers participating in Scaremare are Liberty students earning their CSER credit, like junior Erica Stark and sophomore Michael Melvin.

“Today’s my second day,” Stark said. “I did (go through) last year. I’ve heard people say it’s not scary, but I think that big, giant bunny… it’s creepy.”

Thursday nights the price of admission drops from $8 to $3 for those who bring their college student identification cards, according to Brown. Melvin said this makes a difference in the size of the line.

“Compared to the first nights, it’s almost increased in size … eight times,” Melvin said. “Most of them are Liberty students.”
“Tonight we have Randolph (College) … Sweet Briar, (Virginia) Tech, University of Virginia, … both Carolinas, West Virginia,” Brown said. “A lot of colleges have come through this house.”

Since 1972, more than 300,000 people from several states have screamed, pushed, fallen and laughed their way through the “House of Death,” according to scaremare.com. The event has been held at four different locations, the current one being at 2300 Carroll Ave., Lynchburg, Va. Many of the exhibits and the faces of the visitors and volunteers have changed drastically over the 37 years since Scaremare’s beginning. But the original mission and the white tents at the end have remained the same.

Inside these white tents, visitors are presented with the Gospel message and the chance to make a decision to follow Christ if they so desire.

“My guess, and this is not hard facts, just my own thoughts … (is that) 30 percent, maybe 40 percent (of the people) are church related. Probably even less than that,” Brown said. “We’re talking where our culture is at today, just lost people.”

For more information about Scaremare, including cost of admission, hours of operation and dates, visit scaremare.com.

Contact Cheryl Cooper at ccooper2@liberty.edu.

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