Local haunted house breaks record

Bret Belden

By Danielle LeBlanc, Staff Writer

Jessie Doe Hall’s annual Haunted House made record ticket sales this past Friday in its attempt to not only scare those who dared to walk through, but also to raise money for their community partnership with Somersworth Youth Safe Haven.

“Last year, we sold around 320 tickets and this year we sold about 371 which actually gets us over a thousand dollars raised,” said Dustin MacDougall, co-chair of the haunted house council. “I like that number a lot.”

Along with raising money for Somersworth Youth Haven, the haunted house also collected over 200 cans for the CornucopiaFood Pantry.

This year’s theme was “circus freak show” inspired by the hit television series “American Horror Story.” Those who were brave enough to go through the haunted house gathered in the lobby and were separated into tour groups.

The groups were then led outside into the study lounge where a fortune-teller retold the story that surrounded Jessie Doe Hall. According to MacDougall, the narrative this year was that Jessie Doe used to be a circus house about a century ago and burnt down in a tragic fire.

“She described all the performers and how they burned to death,” MacDougall said. “It was really cool and creepy.”

The haunted house was filled with ravenous cannibals in a cage who could attack at any moment, people jumping out from behind couches and walls; clowns, creepy mimes, a bearded lady and many other scary characters. One room resembled a deadly dollhouse while others were filled with mirrors to give it a fun-house effect.

“That turned out really well,” MacDougall said.

According to MacDougall, the reactions to the house were really good and they heard a lot of positive things.

“People’s reactions when they were coming out were mixed,” MacDougall said. “People were holding onto each other, people were shaking, and a lot of people were smiling when they came out because they knew how good it was.”

MacDougall said a lot of time and planning went in to making the haunted house so successful. There were two groups that helped make the production possible: the fundraising and public relations group and the building logistics group. Co-chair Eric Brown was in the fundraising and public relations group.

“Since this was the third Jessie Doe Haunted House I’ve been involved with planning, I knew what had to be done and jumped in with both feet,” Brown said. “I was in charge of marketing and fundraising, so my primary goal was to get as many people there as possible.”

According to Brown, the app Yik Yak was also a great source to get the word out about the haunted house.

“The night of the haunted house, basically every other yak was about how scary we were and telling everybody to check it out,” Brown said.

However, there were also other contributing factors that led to the success of this year’s haunted house as well the two chairs said. MacDougall claimed that the quality for the haunted house stepped up this year thanks to two art majors who were able to provide face painting and a decorative eye when setting up scenes in the room.

According to MacDougall, everyone seemed wanted to get involved, help with the cause and have some Halloween fun. There were volunteers who even went to the lengths of making new costumes out of the old ones from previous years.

“It was really impressive,” MacDougall said. “They even went to Savers to get some stuff. I was really impressed with the costumes.”

“Everyone involved was extremely energetic and very into it, which made for a great show,” Brown said.