In Oct. 2009, Maryville College student Nick Winston had the idea to bring a haunted house to MC campus. Drawing inspiration from Ripley’s Haunted Adventure in Gatlinburg, he introduced the idea at a Black Student Association meeting.
“It snowballed from there,” Winston said.“Ideas were flying in from every direction.” Thus, the annual BSA haunted house was established. The haunted house event has occurred for the past three years in collaboration with the “Impressions” literary magazine. This tradition will continue this year in Anderson Hall.
Always popular with students, the first year alone garnered between 200 and 300 students. Some students even visited twice, according to Winston. To the members of BSA, the haunted house is seen not only as a time for a scare, but also as a way to introduce their organization to the new school year.
Sheryl Tingling, BSA’s event coordinator, said that since this is the first event of the year for the organization, it introduces students on campus to what BSA does, as well as puts the student organization on the map. Tingling said that the haunted house is a change of pace from many of BSA’s other events, which focus on informing and educating the campus’ student population on a variety of issues, such as diversity and racial awareness.
“We need something to kick off the year, where our students are going to have fun and get to really know BSA,” Tingling said. Tingling said that BSA’s members are essential to making this event a success. “We need each and every member,” Tingling said.
BSA members volunteer to create flyers, paint posters, donate supplies, decorate the haunted house and play various roles in the execution of the event. In their most recent club meeting, BSA members discussed their plans for the upcoming haunted house. As BSA vice president, Sarah Jean- Phillip passed around sign-up sheets at the beginning of the packed meeting, and members eagerly filled in multiple slots. Students discussed and developed ideas for the event, such as creating a disembodied mooing sound to pay homage to Anderson’s legendary bovine ghost.
“I’m excited to see how it goes,” said Aerial Carter, a sophomore BSA member. “I just think it’s a good cause.” The admission cost of this event, which is either one dollar or a canned good item, will benefit various charities that BSA has donated to over the past three years.
This year, the organization is focusing on raising money for Up ‘Til Dawn and will donate the canned goods to Feed the Children. “This event is really influential in helping these children in the grim circumstances they have to go through on a regular basis,” Tingling said.
As posted generously around campus, the theme of this event is “A Haunted Cinema.” Jean-Phillip described the specifics of the event as inspired by cult classics, including the Freddy Kruger and Jason characters from 1980s horror films.
“We thought it would be a good change to have your favorite movie characters in one setting,” Tingling said.
The event takes place on Thursday, Oct. 25 in Anderson Hall from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Children will be admitted; however, parental discretion in advised.