Sunday, January 8, 2012

Scaring Up Some Haunt Plans

Since Jay, Dave, Johnny, and myself have agreed to keep things under wraps until our official reveal at Hauntcon (May 3-7, Monroeville, PA), it's difficult to tell much about our pro haunt planning session yesterday. I didn't even capture much video since vlogging it would have only served to reveal our plans.

However, I can say that from our end we're more than ready to make our presentation to school and township officials, which is tentatively schedule for January 21, or the 28th at the latest.

Yesterday's meeting covered the actual haunt design, logo and graphics work, and the presentation we're going to make.

What I can say is that we're going to have two haunts, a main walk-thru "maze," if you will, and a "lesser" secondary haunt afterwards. Since this is our first effort at this, we decided not to bite off more than we could chew by have three major haunts that filled up the skating rink. If this first effort is as successful as we plan it to be, we can add on modules as we go. Dave has really dug into the minutiae of the fire codes and has come up with some really exciting work that will make this a fun, scary haunt, but one that is completely safe and up to code.

Interestingly, in some of the research I've done on the town of Secaucus (where the haunt will be located), I've found it has a rather colorful history. If anyone's ever driven on the New Jersey Turnpike near its northern terminus, and you've taken the eastern spur towards the Lincoln Tunnel, you'll be familiar with a huge promontory of rock closely hugging the roadway. Known as Laurel Hill Park today (and more colloquially "Graffiti Rock" for reasons you can obviously guess), it was originally called Snake Hill because of the great number of snakes that slithered in the area and in the waterways, some as large as 15 feet! "Secaucus" itself is an old Indian phrase meaning "black snake."

This hill, however, was once home to a penitentiary, an insane asylum, a tuberculosis sanitarium, a poor house (called the Almshouse), and a massive potter's field where all the lost souls of these institutions were buried. It's estimated some 10,000 people are buried there and when they were constructing the new transfer station there a few years ago, they had to halt construction when they started digging up bodies. This area even made it to the pages of "Weird N.J.,"was the subject of an independent film, and was also said to have served as the inspiration for Prudential insurance company's logo (though they ultimately went with the Rock of Gibraltar).

Our haunt will initially be a Victorian mansion (I don't think I'm speaking out of school by revealing that nugget; it's a tired-and-true haunt convention). But in subsequent years, if permitted, we plan on adding on haunt scenes based on this unique town history. Each seems perfect for a haunt -- the jail, the asylum, and the hospital. That's why I said we plan on creating this haunt in modular format so that plugging these additional scares in year after year is entirely feasible.

We've also really advanced our logo work for the haunt, and plan to have some memorabilia on hand to sell at the haunt. Since this haunt is also a fundraiser for the 11th grade class of Secaucus high school, we like the idea of having our logo on the front and a "creeped out" school building on the back. Since we also plan on selling sponsorships to local businesses (small businesses and national corporate accounts), there will be room for company names and logos too. Johnny Cross did some great work on our own business logo (yes, we have a company for this too) and both he and Jay will be working on website graphics next so that once we're given the green light (hey, gotta keep that positive attitude!) we'll be ready to hit the ground running.

I look forward to sharing the actual details on what we're doing in the months ahead. As I said, we'll be meeting with the town in two weeks so we had to make sure we had all our I's crossed and our T's dotted (!) to give the town sufficient belief we actually know what we're doing. From our meeting yesterday, I have that same confidence in our abilities!

So look for us at Hauntcon this year (oh, we won't have a booth or anything, but you'll know we're there!). Afterwards, we plan on releasing the full details of our haunt.


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