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For kids who like 'scary': Columbus Fairgrounds, MUW host haunted houses to raise money for charity

 

Rhonda Sanders adjusts the veil for a skeletal bride at the Columbus Fairgrounds' haunted house Wednesday. Sanders helps organize the Community Benefit Committee's Haunted House every year to help raise money for children's toys during the holidays.

Rhonda Sanders adjusts the veil for a skeletal bride at the Columbus Fairgrounds' haunted house Wednesday. Sanders helps organize the Community Benefit Committee's Haunted House every year to help raise money for children's toys during the holidays. Photo by: Isabelle Altman/Dispatch Staff

 

Rhonda Sanders, left, and Jane Jordan prepare the

Rhonda Sanders, left, and Jane Jordan prepare the "witch's lair" Wednesday in the annual haunted house by the Community Benefit Committee. The haunted house this year will be at the Columbus Fairgrounds from 6-10 p.m. Friday-Oct. 31.
Photo by: Isabelle Altman/Dispatch Staff

 

Rhonda Sanders and Columbus Fairgrounds manager Jane Jordan adjust a dummy in the Community Benefit Committee's Haunted House on Wednesday. The haunted house will be open to visitors starting Friday.

Rhonda Sanders and Columbus Fairgrounds manager Jane Jordan adjust a dummy in the Community Benefit Committee's Haunted House on Wednesday. The haunted house will be open to visitors starting Friday.
Photo by: Isabelle Altman/Dispatch Staff

 

Jane Jordan shows off a jar of fake eyeballs in the

Jane Jordan shows off a jar of fake eyeballs in the "witch's lair" she's decorated for the Community Benefit Committee's annual haunted house at the Columbus Fairgrounds Wednesday. This is the first year the haunted house has been held at the fairgrounds.
Photo by: Isabelle Altman/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Isabelle Altman

 

 

The Columbus Fairgrounds will soon be haunted. 

 

At least that's what the volunteers with the Community Benefit Committee are hoping visitors will think when they visit this year's haunted house. 

 

Normally held downtown, the haunted house will also feature a "no ghosts allowed" kids zone, a hay ride when the weather permits and of course the house itself, filled to the brim with ghosts, skeletons, witches and all the other accoutrements that make Halloween spooky. 

 

Rhonda Sanders, who has organized the benefit committee's haunted house for the last several years, said volunteers from the Columbus Police Department, Lowndes County Sheriff's Office and local civic clubs had been working on the haunted house since the beginning of October. The house features a butcher's room, a clown room and witch's lair in between the usual dark rooms full of zombies and skeletons. 

 

If that's too scary for children, Sanders said, kids can collect candy out of hearses from local funeral homes at the kids zone one building over while face painting and bouncing on jump castles. There will also be refreshments provided by local vendors, she said. 

 

"The main thing is we want people to know that they are coming to a good, safe environment -- another option instead of them walking the street," Sanders said. "Trick-or-treating. We do want them to go out with supervision trick-or-treating, but this is another option, a safety zone, and we really are going to focus on having a safe place for kids and make it family-oriented." 

 

The event will raise money for the benefit committee's bike drive. Every year, Sanders said, the committee buys bikes for needy children, which this year will be distributed between the Salvation Army's Angel Tree and Lowndes County parks and community centers. 

 

Sanders added the fairgrounds are "the ideal location" for the event, which is usually held downtown. Fairgrounds manager Jane Jordan agreed to host the event and waived her usual fee in lieu of the volunteers helping with this month's electrical bill due to the lights for the haunted house. 

 

Jordan said the event helps the fairgrounds as much as it does the benefit committee. 

 

"It's bringing back to what the people expect the fairgrounds to be: family," she said. "It's going to be well-protected. She's going to have a lot of security out here and the fact that they could come out here and do it was great. I love this kind of stuff." 

 

Jordan even took on her own room in the haunted house -- a witch's lair filled with herbs, jars full of (fake) eyeballs and a crystal ball. 

 

"I'm loving it," she said. "I'm going to do the hay ride, too. ... I'm really getting into it." 

 

The kids zone is $5 and the house itself $10. Sanders recommends the house for ages 10 and up, but added it depends on the child. 

 

"Some kids like scary," she said. "Some kids live for this. But it's going to be up to the parent. But that's why there's going to be that (kids') option -- because I have kids too -- that option with no ghosts allowed over there." 

 

The haunted house will be open from 6-10 p.m. starting Friday and continuing through Oct. 31. 

 

 

 

Mississippi University for Women 

 

Meanwhile, Taylor Hall at Mississippi University for Women's campus will also temporarily turn into a haunted house. 

 

The house, inspired by the television show "American Horror Story," will be open from 8-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and is run by MUW's Office of Student Life. 

 

Students began planning the haunted house last week, said Taylor Greer, the W Leadership intern, who is working on the haunted house for the second year in a row. 

 

"It's a fun event for families to come out and go through a haunted house, because that's what people like to do for Halloween time," she said. 

 

It's the fifth year students have planned a haunted house for Halloween, Greer said, adding that past events have featured houses inspired by fall themes, "freakshows" and the movie franchise "The Purge." 

 

"Last year we did the horrors of MUW. So we took the history of the W and we kind of turned it into a haunted house. We made up a lot of the stories," she added laughing. "But some of them were loosely-based." 

 

Greer added that MUW's house is more geared toward college students and adults, but added some people bring their children. 

 

Admission at the W's haunted house is $4. A portion of the proceeds will go to St. Jude Children's Hospital.

 

 

 

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