Asylum returning to legion basement
Turner Valley: Spook House scare runs Oct. 25-31
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 06:00 am
Screams heard from the basement of the Royal Canadian Legion in the nights leading up to Halloween are not uncommon in Turner Valley.
For nine years, Jessie Friesen has been transforming the basement into a Legion of Monsters and enjoys watching people run howling through the maze of frightening scenes and creepy characters.
“I enjoy hearing those screams and I enjoy people having a good time because even if you’re scared the group that you go with is laughing,” she said. “A few years later you’re like, ‘Do you remember that haunted house we went to?’
“It’s neat to be part of people’s memories that way.”
There’s a method behind Friesen’s madness since she began the transformation.
“We’ve been doing this as a storyline,” she said. “Carn-Evil came to town, killed everybody and were all admitted to the asylum last year.”
This year’s asylum will feature a doctor’s office, laboratory, morgue, torture room, body freezer, exorcism room, patient therapy room, solitary confinement and children’s ward, Friesen said.
“It’s much bigger and we have a lot more stories this year,” she said. “We’ve taken down a couple of walls and opened a few closets. That makes things a little more interesting for sure.”
Planning for The Asylum has been a year in the making, said Friesen.
“Last year when we were taking down and putting stuff away we already had an idea as to what we were going to do,” she said. “All year round we kept our eyes open for décor, props and nick knacks.”
Sixteen volunteers have been working to create the rooms. When the doors creak open on Oct. 25, many will be dressed as patients, doctors and nurses who will hide around corners and lurk in the shadows eager to scare intruders, said Friesen.
“We had a lot of new blood come,” she said. “I took them for a tour and they were just amazed. Once I started showing them the layout and blueprints they were just in awe and were so excited. I’m a sucker for a scare.”
Frequent volunteer Shelby Cox-Dersch can’t wait to learn what Friesen has up her sleeve each year.
“It’s different every year,” she said. “We always come up with something fantastic. We have a blast down there in the house.”
Last year Cox-Dersch donned a straightjacket in the padded room. This year she’ll be in the exorcism room, but won’t reveal details as to not give the scare away.
“There is such a thrill in scaring people,” she said. “Between the scares we walk around and talk with each other and share stories about the last person that walked through. We are under the mask giggling and laughing the entire time.”
Cox-Dersch said her favourite scare victims are men. Despite their efforts to protect their children and sweethearts, they’re often the ones who scream the loudest, she said.
“My boyfriend won’t go through anymore,” she said. “He lost it. People could hear him screaming upstairs. That was his last adventure in the house.”
Also keen on frightening those who dare enter the spook house is Jace Staples, who has been volunteering since he was a teen.
“It’s a great creative outlet,” he said. “I like acting in it the best just because it’s fun to see other people come through and appreciate the work and have fun in the house.”
Jace will act as an asylum patient this year, although his role could change from evening to evening.
“Jess changes things on the fly,” he said. “She says, ‘Hey, I need this spot filled.”
Last year’s house saw almost 2,600 people walk through the doors over six nights, with the scare reduced for younger and more easily spooked crowds and ramped up for those eager for a fright.
To get the line moving faster, Friesen and her cronies are changing things up so those not wanting a big scare only go through a portion of the Spook House.
“They will go outside and then through the double doors into the asylum to the doctor’s room,” Friesen said. “When they come out of that first room we will scoot them right down to the exit.”
The spook house is hosting an adult-only night Oct. 27. Admission is $5 plus a food item for the Oilfields Food Bank.
The annual Family Halloween Costume Party takes place Oct. 28. Admission is $5.
The Asylum is open for tours Oct. 25-31 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for children up to age 13.
Proceeds from the Spook House cover the cost of hosting next year’s event and will support the Royal Canadian Legion Turner Valley Branch and Oilfields Food Bank.
For group day tours or to donate candy to be handed out each night call 403-933-4600.