A group of small children and their parents moved hesitantly across the dark threshold of Dwight Hall. Inside, they were met by a pale and ghastly-looking figure who told them the tale of the five Yale students who had died in the very same room in 1867. Forewarned with this information, the group proceeded to the next section of the shadowy hallway. Soon after their departure, loud screams were heard.
When asked if there was any truth to the tale of the deceased Yalies, the ghastly-looking figure, Nicholas Miranda ’05, answered with a laugh.
“Nah, we’re just making crap up,” Miranda said.
Miranda is president of Alpha Phi Omega, Yale’s coeducational service fraternity. The group sponsored a haunted house in Dwight Hall Friday. The haunted house was free for any members of the New Haven community — including Yale students — who were looking for Halloween thrills.
Thrillseekers of all ages wandered through a darkened Dwight Hall strung with cobwebs. In this “Great Hall of Fear” they encountered student volunteers dressed as ghosts and the witches of Macbeth. Some students lay on the floor to pose as cadavers who would jump up and frighten unsuspecting passersby. Flickering lights threw shadows on the black-draped walls, while coffins and spiders littered the floor.
In addition to the main haunted house, the event included an eerily-lit storytelling room where guests were regaled with such classic urban legends as “The Hook” and “High Beams.” There was also a mad scientist’s lab, which was filled with bizarre scientific apparatuses and prominently featured a recently disinterred young woman lying on a table. In this room, onlookers witnessed an organ-harvesting operation gone wrong. Just as the mad scientist leaned over to remove his victim’s eye, the corpse sat up and began shrieking for help.
“She’s not going to hurt you, she’s dead!” Jason Van Batavia ’05, the mad scientist said, as screaming children fled the room in horror. Those brave few who remained were offered the chance to feel the victim’s “eyes” — which were actually peeled grapes in a bowl.
Those who emerged from the haunted house alive were rewarded with candy and face-painting. But some downplayed its overall fear factor.
“It wasn’t scary,” said Lewis Aranjo, a young child who visited the haunted house with his father and two brothers.
His father, however, was skeptical of the bravado displayed by his sons.
“Why did you have your hood up, then?” Brian Aranjo asked.
He said he was not convinced that his sons were unfazed by the haunted house.
“They were scared,” Aranjo said.
The organizers of the haunted house said they were encouraged by the event’s success in past years and were expecting an even higher turnout this year.
“I think this is a success. Several years ago, there were 100 kids; this year [we expected] 500,” Vicky Nguyen ’06, the chairwoman of the haunted house said. “It’s very hectic, but it’s worthwhile.”