Scaremare breaks three records in one season

Philip Sitterding
  • Over 1,900 more people than in 2013
  • Two record-setting attendance nights
  • Almost 3,600 conversions

A record-setting year

Liberty University’s 42nd annual Scaremare haunted house set a new record for overall attendance, reaching 27,238 visitors over the course of nine nights.

With 1,923 more visitors than it had in 2013, Scaremare also broke its previous record for most visitors in one night, reaching 4,959 attendees Oct. 18 and 5,062 one week later. Steve Vandergriff, the project’s director, said that the high attendance came not just from Virginia, but from as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida.

A new spiritual emphasis

The feature that most set 2014’s version of Scaremare apart from previous years’ was Scaremare’s new partnership with I am Second, a Christian ministry whose goal, according to its website, is “to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.” Brian Long*, a junior at Liberty, said that this year’s presentation–which pictured people as puzzles broken by sin and Jesus as the divine tape holding them together–was more effective than it had been in years past.

“I liked how they did it,” Long said. “I thought it was different; I haven’t heard it presented that way before.”

Such reactions were exactly what Scaremare officials were looking for when they partnered with I am Second, and their choice was vindicated by the 3,568 confirmed conversions that resulted from the message. According to Jonathan Geukgeuzian, chair of the church ministries department, this new direction was something Liberty was very excited about.

“The Gospel message doesn’t change, but sometimes the way you present it latches onto people differently,” Geukgeuzian said.

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Students earned Christian Community Service hours for volunteering at Scaremare. (Photos courtesy of The Liberty Champion. Used with permission.)

A program run by students

Scaremare has relied heavily on volunteer help from Liberty students, and 2014 was no exception. Vandergriff estimated between 120 and 150 students were involved in running each night of the event, which ran from Thursday through Saturday Oct. 9-25. Students who volunteered were able to earn credit toward their Christian Community Service requirement of 20 hours volunteer work per semester.

Students who attended the haunted house were impressed by its realism and innovations. Among these were a room illuminated purely by a strobe light and a corridor that seemed to rotate around visitors. Long said Scaremare compared well with other haunted houses he had visited.

“I mean, I’m not that easily scared, I guess,” he said. “But Amber? When she was walking, she’d fall down and just scream her head off, and then, like, Holt would have to carry her out and everything.”

It costs about $80,000 every year to put on the haunted house, Vandergriff said.

*All quotes from Brian Long are from an extra interview conducted by the author.
NOTE: Information for this story was taken not only from the Champion article, “Prepare to scare,” but from two stories from the Champion’s website (Oct. 15, 2013 & Nov. 5, 2013), a story from News & Advance, a story from WSET and the Scaremare website.

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