By Caroline Brewton
City desk editor
T-minus 2 hours.
For the first time ever, Fright Night, an event sponsored by Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity (FIJI) and Delta Delta Delta Sorority in conjuction with the Baylor Activities Council (BAC) and Student Activities, will be held on Baylor’s campus. Established in 1996, Fright Night is an annual haunted house event held to benefit the Waco Chapter of Young Life, a Christian organization that fosters friendships between adult leaders and children in order to positively impact the lives of the children involved. The haunted house will open its doors at 8 p.m. and remain open until 11 p.m. tonight, with additional times from 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. In addition to the haunted house, free hot chocolate will be served and visitors can visit a photo booth, which will also be free. Photo booth services will be provided by CornerBooth.
The venue change occurred because the Eastland Lakes Clubhouse, where the event has been held for the past several years, had been booked in advance for another event. Westlake junior Carlos Gutierrez, a member of the Baylor Activities Council and the program coordinator for Fright Night, said he believes the change will have a positive effect on turnout, and said he is definitely expecting a bigger turnout now “than we have had in past years.” The campus location is expected to appeal to freshmen and to those who live on or near campus, but don’t have cars, event organizers said.
The big white tent that will house the event went up on Fountain Mall on Monday, and members of the organizations have been working nonstop since then in order to prepare for the event, said Gutierrez. The house will feature scares ranging from “hospital” to “amusement-fair types.” A disclaimer on the event website warns the house will feature content not suitable for children and warns that children under 13 should be accompanied by an adult.
“Visitors can expect to be frightened for their lives,” said Derek Harmon Jr., a sophomore FIJI pledge from Houston who helped with construction for the event. “You can expect a lot of pop culture references.”
By pop culture references, Harmon means movies.
“There’s a Ring well,” he said, referring to a 2002 horror movie starring Naomi Watts and Daveigh Chase. Gutierrez said visiors can also expect strobe lights and smoke machines, although he “didn’t want to give too much away,” and to find out more, people should attend the event.
Overland Park, Kan., senior Elizabeth Cole served as an event chair, along with three other members of Delta Delta Delta and a FIJI member. Cole said that although the tent went up Monday, administrative work for the event began in the summer, well in advance. Whereas the Eastland Lake Clubhouse had a structure with walls to base their construction on, those who worked on the event this year had to build a structure from the ground up, with tents set up by Baylor facility services.
“It’s more intensive just because it’s the first year,” Cole said. “It’s kind of a pilot year of doing it on campus.”
For Fright Night, it’s the first year on campus – but it might not be the last.
More than providing scares, the ultimate goal of the event is to benefit Young Life, Cole said, and if the event on campus is “ultimately more beneficial for Young Life, we’ll strive to keep it on campus, so Young Life can get the most out of it they can.”
The event is free, although donations for Waco Young Life will be taken at the door. Fright Night shirts will be sold, with half the proceeds benefitting Young Life.