Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Haunted house raises money for local schools

A student with a blood-spattered white shirt led four people through his fraternity house, which rang with the sounds of screams, chain saws and doors banging repeatedly. Tuesday wasn’t just a normal night at Sigma Alpha Epsilon, but rather a philanthropy event they are hosting for the Halloween season.

SAE and the sorority Alpha Phi collaborated on “Project Scare,” a haunted house open to students and Evanston residents, to raise money for the after-school sports program at Evanston/Skokie School District 65. For $5, guests are led through various rooms in the house, enveloped in darkness save a disorienting strobe light. They encounter scenes like a screaming girl jumping up from an “operating table” and glow-in-the-dark masks advancing from black walls.

“If you get scared even after you plan it, I think it will serve justice for everyone who comes,” said Bennett Weisse, philanthrophy chairwoman for A Phi. The Communication sophomore helped organize the event with Weinberg junior and SAE Vice President Matt Levine, and read a warning to each group who dared to go inside.

This is the first year SAE and A Phi are hosting the haunted house. Levine said they have been organizing it since the beginning of the year and plan to make it an annual event. The house has been open each night since Saturday and will continue until tonight from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“We’ve never really done much with Alpha Phi, but they are so enthusiastic and dedicated,” Levine said. “They made the event what it is.”

The fraternity and sorority had no external help setting up the house, and all the participants were members of either SAE or Alpha Phi, Weisse said. Two tours are led at a time by guides who stagger themselves so as not to run into each other, and a University Police officer is on duty for crowd control. It takes about 10 minutes to go through the house, which has been transformed into spooky living quarters since Saturday.

“The only issue is the dining area, but we work around it,” Levine said. “And besides, sometimes it’s better if we can’t see what we’re eating,” he joked.

Though the haunted house was intended for students, so far, the attendees have been split in half between students and families with young children, Levine said. And even though they offer a “toned-down” version of the tour, children younger than 13 not accompanied by parent are discouraged from entering. But this usually does not make people shy away from the haunted house, he said.

Sandy Chiu brought her two children, ages 11 and 8, and their friend to the house after seeing an advertisement at Potbelly Sandwich Works, 630 Davis St.

“It was okay for them because they got the toned-down version,” Chiu said while the children chattered excitedly about the scariest parts. “There was a lot of pushing, but no crying.”

As of Tuesday night, nine people had been too scared to make it through the entire tour. Levine said many people have been surprised at how frightening it is.

This was the second haunted house Medill sophomore Nathan Garden attended, and he said he enjoyed being taken through with a group of friends.

“The chain saws were good, that always gets people,” Garden said. “It was funny for us because we knew a lot of people so it didn’t scare us as much, but I can see how 7-year-olds would be scared.”

Levine said they might boost the scare factor tonight in honor of Halloween, and both Levine and Weisse are anticipating a large crowd.

“We’re expecting a lot of people tomorrow,” Weisse said. “It’s going to be stressful but fun.”

Reach Corinne Lestch at [email protected].

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Haunted house raises money for local schools