Thursday, August 22, 2013

Haunt Season - My favorite time of the year.

!!Warning this post contains links and pictures of haunted house actors, nothing in the pictures is real, just costumes, but it may creep out, scare, or disturb some! Parental advisory!!


Now let me explain about what "haunt season" is to me since it will be mentioned many many times and I want to try to explain why it's so important to me. Hopefully show you another side, that doesn't seem so dark and scary. Haunted houses are a big thing in South East Michigan. For the last 8 years I have worked at haunted houses, as a actor/ entertainer, scaring and entertaining all that try to make their way through the attraction.

I know its not your usual entertainment, but once a year I get to feel truly FREE! Free to explode, yell with all my heart in it and run around without real care. Its very therapeutic and extremely fun. Being 5'2 not many people are ordinarily intimidated by me. But when you are this creature with a mask, you can stand up to anyone, face the world with no fear, and no one will dare challenge you. It strengthens your will power, opens your eyes to a new way of being. You can become very animistic when doing this. Learning to step lightly, listen very intensely, and always be aware. By the end of haunt season I am free of stress, fears, and any sadness I was holding on to.
Another plus about haunt season is it comes in the beginning of fall. Fall in Michigan is a beautiful! The weather starts cooling off, the air smells amazingly crisp, and the leaves start changing color (at least in Michigan). Kids start going back to school and the world goes back into its quiet rotation. 

I highly recommend it to everyone. :) So here's my story...

To be honest before I ever worked at a "haunt" I was scared to enter haunted houses. I didn't like being surprised. But I loved hay rides! You are in a safe bubble of friends being pulled on a wagon. The actors have to come to you, its not very personal or in your face. I've never gotten scared by a haunted hay ride. They are just a very fun outdoor ride. Great for families. Haunted house on the other hand make you walk to the actor, they can be in your face, so you have to have the courage to move yourself through the usually dark corridors. 

My first gig was a haunted hay ride a half hour from my house, when I was 20. I loved it. Besides the cold night time temperatures that taught me to layer your clothes, it was the best job at that time. Even after a couple small injuries, rude people, and bruises, I loved everything, but the end of season chilly weather. The cold makes running around less sweaty but It also freezes up some of your motor skills plus I have asthma.  It is a lot of psychical work, but when you get those reactions its well worth it. :)
I joined ScareFest for a little bit, but again it was a hayride, long hours in the cold for few scares wasn't worth it to me after doing it for 2 seasons. So I went about my normal life... lol

But I missed the feeling it gave me.... When Scarefest closed for half a season, a group of us found Haunted Hallows in 2008. That's where are dreams of what haunting could be were truly born. We had a haunted hay ride AND barn. They gave us artistic input of the attraction and our characters.  It was on a large farm land, with chickens, goats, and peacocks, this is important because I love animals. It was a nice bonus! Plus I finally got to work inside! The barn was over 100 years old! and truly haunted (yes I'm one of those ghost believers lol). I worked in a small twisting hallway, pretending to be a mannequin and well, it worked. I loved peoples reactions, scared, surprised, some even laughed! I was once tipped $20 for scaring a guy so good. But all of them were entertained some how. Our rule has always been, "if you can't scare them, make them laugh." and well we found how to truly do both at once.


We became a family of haunters. The owners cooked for us every night we worked and let me tell you, food taste so much better when its home cooked and you really sweated for it! We would gather after around bonfires and tell stories our personal night. It never felt like work, and the money was just a bonus. I made the most amazing life long friends from this and a lot of my stress and tension from the craziness of life had lifted from my shoulders. I always feel so centered and at peace after... 


***
Than after second season, December 9, 2009, the barn burned down. What burned it down is still unknown exactly... We were devastated, it destroyed our dreams. We really put so much heart into that barn. the owners went separate ways and the family was torn again.

Than came Sinister. Where I reside now. We are small group of entertainers now. We all have many years of experience under our belts and what we have grown into is amazing. Many customers don't make it through, very few leave disappointed. We even have a decent following. We have all grown together, are characters are so unique and we promise to give every single customer that walks through our door a very interactive, personal, experience. This is out passion and there is a lot of heart and energy behind it. I have even found a ways to use my yoga and vertical challenge (being short) in my act. Exercising and entertaining in action!

In September 2011, my mother passed away. It was very hard on me, I lost all motivation, felt so lifeless, and alone. But I still felt that excitement for haunt season... not only would I be constantly surrounded by loved one, I would be able to scream, yell, get all the anger, sadness, and hurt out! And I really believe it helped on this long healing journey. I don't feel I would have made it through the beginning of my new journey as well Honestly I believe my mom hung on as long as she could and knew the perfect time was before haunt season and right after I graduated Paul Mitchell. She knew what it all truly meant to me. But that's just my opinion.

 Like I said I was originally afraid of haunted houses. I never really expected to fall in love with such a unique venture. But once you step into that world you see things very differently. A lot less scares me now. Haunting really built my strength, gave me a goal for keeping in good shape and healthy (you need all the energy you can get to do what we do), helped me find a great group of like minded friends, and helped me find a great release for my pain of loss. Everyone has their way of releasing it, this is mine. 


Hopefully I opened your eyes a little to my world. This is a small taste. I plan to take many pictures and have many more stories for you very soon. Haunt season is almost upon us, September 13! If you live in the Detroit area I encourage you to come out to Sinister Haunted House!  Morel of the story, I highly recommend you work at one at least once. Make up a character, bust out the old clothing, get creative and create a alter ego who can't be scared, broken, or intimated!  There are also many family friendly ones if you aren't into the scaring aspect.

Tell me about your haunted house experiences, what do you dislike or love? I'd love to hear your opinions and stories!

Thank you for reading!
<3,
Mer

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