Kiwanis Club Welcomes Community into their NightmareOctober 21, 2010 No Comments
Kiwanis Club welcomes community into their nightmare
Posted Oct 21, 2010 By Charelle Evelyn
EMC News – During the daytime, Proulx Berry Farm is a welcoming, family-friendly spot. But, once the sun goes down, the smiles of the various figures and statues that would normally be pleasant take on a more sinister glint when caught in a set of headlights.
For the fifth year in a row, the ominous and winding Frank Kenney Rd. – with signs warning you “You’re almost there” in case you lose your nerve and want to turn back – brings you to sKreamers, the annual Halloween project by the Orleans Kiwanis Club.
With a recent discovery of the long-forgotten Orleans Asylum for the Criminally Insane, the scare-enthused organizers are hoping to top the previous editions of the weekend event.
“We start planning in March and after the (Canadian Haunter’s) convention in May, I don’t think we’ve missed being here one weekend,” said Kiwanis member and one of the chief planners, Harley Bloom.
“The club thinks we’re on the outside edge of insanity,” Bloom said of himself and his partner-in-fear, Mitch Miller.
As one of the club’s biggest fund raisers, sKreamers began as a means of funding the Orleans Adventure Park on Trim Rd. With that project complete, the money brought in from the $15 admission price and canteen goes to support the club’s other charitable work, said Kiwanis member Dan Pihlainen.
This year, the attraction, which runs Fridays through Sundays until the end of the month, has split its infamous barn tour into two parts to make it easier to navigate and also to prolong the scare.
“If we had a slowdown, it slowed the whole thing,” Pihlainen said.
Between the two barn routes and the 20-minute spooky wagon ride, the entire attraction can take about an hour-and-a-half to tour.
Small groups of about four people travel through the barn with a volunteer – to ensure they don’t get lost or can find an exit if the scare proves to be too much – where they are confronted with asylum escapees and various sinister vignettes.
Along with the dedication of the organizers, sKreamers relies on the commitment of their volunteers. This year, about 140 people, mostly students, have registered to help out.
“We have kids coming back two, three, four or some five years,” said Bloom. “They do it because they love it.”
As they continue to return, those volunteers are given roles of responsibility and are put in charge of props, make-up or other volunteers.
“It’s a matter of survival that we need them to step up,” he said.
According to Pihlainen, the club has given out scholarships to student volunteers who have gone above and beyond.
“It’s not just that they’re good spookers, but they embrace the concept of community activism,” Bloom said. “That makes the project so much more than what it started out as.”
Also adding to the project is the counsel of two full-time vampires who Bloom became connected with during the convention. Along with taking time to help raise the volunteers’ “scareability,” they also become part of the attraction when they visit.
“The kids really took to them. They help work the crowd and give a pep talk,” Bloom said of the pair, who are regularly featured at the Halloween attraction at Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto.
Kiwanis’ sKreamers runs Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 10 p.m. and Sunday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, please visit www.skreamers.ca. Children under the age of 10 are not recommended.