Oct 31, 2006

Scaremare: Behind the screams

by Joshua Kozerow
Several decades ago, a man was electrocuted in an old house by the train tracks behind what is now the Lynchburg City Stadium.  As relayed by Dr. Stephen Vandegriff, a youth ministries professor, that old house is now the location for Lynchburg’s horror house — Scaremare — during the Halloween season.  Scaremare, which celebrated its 34th year as Lynchburg’s original and ultimate house of horrors, opened Oct. 12 for every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night until the end of the month.
According to statistics compiled each year, Scaremare has entertained and frightened hundreds of thousands of people since 1972. Vandegriff who was in charge of Scaremare, said that the haunted house is presented as a “house of death,” as its dramatizations of violence and death have caused people to consider the question, “What happens when I die?” 

The outreach’s ultimate purpose is to reach unsaved people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Vandegriff said, “The crowds continue to come and the kids continue to get saved.”  Vandegriff also stated that there is an average 10 percent conversion rate out of the estimated 18,000-20,000 people who attend each year.   

Scaremare underwent some changes and improvements for this year’s event. The outside portion of the house has had many different themes throughout the years, from cannibals to war scenes and airplane crashes.  This year’s outside theme was based on the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” an obvious reference to the current motion picture of the same name.  There was a new cabin addition to scare those walking through the wooded portion of the tour. Inside, the upstairs portion of the house had been redone including some new attractions.  Several new rooms that guests experienced were the door, picture and pirate rooms.

A lot of work and money goes into each year’s production of Scaremare.   Prior to the opening of the production, volunteers worked nonstop for over a month on the construction and landscaping of the ghoulish environment.  An average of $70,000 is spent on Scaremare each year.  Senior Drew Shick said, “We spend a lot of money on construction.  I can’t imagine the amount of money that they spend on nail tarps every year.” 

Vandegriff said, “Our number one expense is security.  Our second highest is taxes.”  The security is needed to prevent potential problems such as people cutting in line and the possession of weapons on the property. The tax cost includes Lynchburg’s amusement tax.  The City of Lynchburg charges events that are meant for entertainment, regardless of their non-profit status.

Jeremiah Austia, another student volunteer, said, “There’s a lot of money that goes into fire codes and safety.  Everything has to be approved by the fire marshal.”

Scaremare is definitely a highlight for Lynchburg during the month of October.  Vandegriff noted that it has been a success both as an entertainment venue and as a ministry.  For more information, go to www.scaremare.com.

Contact Joshua Kozerow at jakozerow@liberty.edu.
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