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Fairview Park groups make ‘graveyard’ come to life

By Kevin Kelley

Fairview Park

“You need more blood on you!”

In just about any other circumstance, that’s a sentence that would cause alarm and fear. But it’s about 30 minutes before “Fairview Graveyard,” the new haunted house at Fairview Centre, is about to open Saturday night. The words, coming from Joshua Reading, are directed to Hannah Cottrell, a young teenage girl portraying a massacre victim come back to life as a zombie. She’s among the actors putting the last touches on their makeup and costumes.

“We’re going to jump out and scare people,” she explained.

Erin Strandahl is there with her three children, Paige, Brandon and Brett, ages 12, 10 and 8. After visiting the haunted house the previous weekend, the three asked if they could volunteers as actors.

“My kids love Halloween,” Strandahl said.

Fairview Graveyard is the brainchild of Anthony Sargent and Angelo Russo, two fathers who met through the Fairview Park Early Childhood PTA. Sargent, who had been in the practice of annually building a haunted house in his backyard, suggested that a similar Halloween house of horrors be created for the larger community.

Russo, who serves on the board of the Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce, contacted officials at Lamar Companies, the new owner of Fairview Center. Lamar donated space in vacant stores for the haunted house.

Community groups are using Fairview Graveyard as a fundraiser. Members who volunteer as actors, ticket takers and concession stand salespersons earn money for their organizations based on the number of hours they work.

Participating groups include the Early Childhood PTA, Fairview Park PTA, West Shore Rotary, Fairview Park Fine Arts and Theatre Association and Boy Scout Troop 421.

In addition, some youth are working at the haunted house as part of their required community service hours for schools or churches, said Denise Roland, Fairview Graveyard’s volunteer organizer.

No auditions are required for the acting roles. The roles of zombies, for example, aren’t too difficult, Russo explained.

“They just have to keep their mouths shut and walk with a limp,” he said of the zombies.

Reading, Russo’s brother-in-law, said he tells the young actors to get their rage out at the haunted house.

“Be as nasty as you can’t be anywhere else,” he said.

One young actor, Thomas Sunday, 13, said he heard about the haunted house from a poster. He said he’ll portray his character, a crazy old person, by screeching and bouncing off the walls.

The dark maze of zombies that is Fairview Graveyard takes about 20 minutes to venture through.

“Everyone seems to have a lot of fun,” Russo said. The haunted house is geared to persons age 15 and up, but some kids as young as 7 or 8 have been through, he said.

“If it goes well, we’ll have it on an annual basis and try to find a more permanent home for it,” Russo said.

 

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