By CHELSEA NORTH and ERIN HOLLOWAY
Editor: MICHELLE DANNER
October 31st is Halloween, a night for costumes, treats, scares and fun in the United States. Beginning at end of September, Halloween specialty stores open to supply the masses with Halloween goodies and costumes. Throughout October, children and adults participate in various Halloween events and activities: pumpkin picking and carving, costume parties, trick or treating, and visiting haunted attractions. Halloween is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in America, so we wanted to immerse our students in its traditions in a unique way. Haunted attractions are incredibly popular, so we decided to have our students experience a haunted farm. Such places have different themed rooms or areas and hire actors to be monsters, zombies, ghosts, or iconic movie horror movie villains to scare the many visitors who dare to enter. Many of these costumed actors, such as a bloodied man with an ax, a haunted pumpkin demon, and other ghouls, produced shrieks and requests for photos from our students.
This year New Mind took our UPP students to Panic Point, the second scariest Halloween attraction in North Carolina, located in Youngsville. During the bus ride to Panic Point, UPP staff members talked about the history of Halloween as a festival of harvest, death, and trickery. They also answered questions about its traditions and icons, such as “why are pumpkins so prominent?” Panic Point’s main attraction is the Haunted Forest, a creepy forest trail that is littered with hiding actors and creepy obstacles, such as an abandoned school bus or dilapidated farmhouse. The Haunted Forest takes around 20 minutes to walk through. Each area requires visitors to enter in single file line since the openings aren’t wide for more than one person. For many students, the atmosphere and props were much more intense than those in China.
“I didn’t want to be in the front,” Jackson Yu said. “They were scared more.”
“It was hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t,” Justin Zhou said, who was impressed by the Haunted Forest. “In China, we just have painted pictures on the wall and flicking lights, nothing like here!”
Another attraction at Panic Point was the Dark Trail, an unlit path where students groped in the dark woods, using only a rope as a guide. The actors often remained unseen until students stumbled in front of them. Each haunted area also used lighting and sound effects (banging on the walls or screams) to be more startling. “The Dark Trail was really scary, and it was my favorite,” Jessica Qu said. Many UPP students enjoyed the Dark Trail, and although many were visibly anxious while in line, they liked it better than the Haunted Forest in the end.
There were several other fun attractions for the students to enjoy that weren’t quite as intense. The Corn Maze and Haunted Hayride provided students with a milder scare, while the Zombie Shootout game and the Carny Crypt offered more specialized haunts. Students could also play two carnival games, basketball shooting and football toss, in order to win Panic Point t-shirts. At the end of the night, many students crowded around to burn the last of their tickets winning shirts for themselves and even their friends.
Although some students were quite scared, we were proud to see all the students face their fears and have a good time.