Behind the masks and beneath the ghost and ghoul costumes, countless Halloween memories have been made at UR, whether in the halls of haunted houses or along the creeping corridors of corn mazes. Each year, a slew of seasonal traditions trickles in just in time for the students’ change of wardrobe from shorts and sundresses to scarves and sweaters. These events and activities work to unite the UR community across organizations and fields.
Sophomore Antonio Cardenas’ desire to contribute to the community drove him to become involved in Class Council last year. For years, the first event organized by freshman councils has been the Haunted Hayride, Cardenas explained. The event was his favorite of his first semester at the University.
UR’s Haunted Hayrides begin by taking students on a voyage through “haunted” cornfields. With their feet dangling off the edge of wagons decked out with hay and costumed guides, students are carted past terrors of the night and are eventually brought to a haunted house where statues come alive and other paranormal activities take place.
According to Cardenas, the entire experience can last from 45 minutes to over an hour, depending on how fast students rush their drivers to escape the clutches of the costumed creatures jumping out from the corn. After the scaring settles down, students can stay to enjoy refreshments and a horror movie.
Since they began several years ago, the Hayrides have been a resounding success. The event is so popular, Cardenas said, that tickets typically sell out within just a few days. This year, when extra tickets went on sale, they were gobbled up within minutes.
The hayrides serve as both an initiation for the freshmen Class Council into student government life and a welcome to the student undergraduate body to the Halloween season.
The Haunted Hayrides aren’t the only chance for students to run away from monsters. Phi Kappa Tau (PKT) provides the opportunity to run from your fears in the form of their annual Zombie 5K. Characterized as a “survival trek” by PKT Junior and President Connor Williams, participants are tasked with outrunning “zombies” – fraternity brothers in horror flick makeup – in a cross-campus race.
“Everyone, in the beginning of the race, starts off with tape lives,” he explained, describing the way that runners are given three masking tape flags on their arms, which once removed, symbolize that they have been “killed.” “As you progress through the race, there are zombies waiting to ambush you and try to take your lives.”
The fun doesn’t stop there. “When you finish,” Williams said, “all the lives you have left become raffle tickets for prizes.”
This year – the second year of the 5K– prizes from Deli Sandros, Aja Noodle, and Wegmans served as incentives for survival. Furthermore, all the proceeds from the event are donated to SeriousFun, a children’s fund that finances camps for kids with terminal diseases. Fundraising from the race helps provide “camp experiences for kids…who wouldn’t normally have that sort of summer experience,” Williams said.
With around 50 attendees this year, Williams is optimistic about the Zombie 5K’s future. “I think everyone that partook really enjoyed it,” he said. “Next year, [the race will go through the] cemetery – [it’s] going to happen.”
On the cheerier side of the season, Susan B. Anthony residents can revel in childhood nostalgia with Sue Boo, a trick-or-treating experience through the halls of the freshmen residence complex.
“[Sue Boo] is a collaborative Halloween program…[that] allows residents the opportunity to dress up and trick-or-treat in the building,” Sue B. Graduate Head Resident (GHRs) Tomás Boatwright said. The doors of RAs, D’Lions, and Freshman Fellows are decorated with tags in the shape of a “ghoul, ghost, or mummy,” signaling to passing students that free candy is only a knock away.
“Students really enjoy the experience…they can decide to go all out with their costumes or not,” Boatwright said. “Some students really embrace the event.”
Since its inception three years ago, Sue Boo has been “sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Hall Council, [which] has traditionally provided financial support to purchase the candy that’s dispersed to the residents,” Boatwright explained.
As a GHR, his role in Sue Boo’s creation was an advisory one. “When the RAs thought of the program, I gave them some feedback…but really, it’s their baby,” he said. “They purchase the candy, they plan the logistics and the behind the scenes.”
Sue Boo exemplifies a coordinated effort between the residence hall’s two RA staffs, the result of which has evolved into a Halloween tradition cherished by students. In the lead-up to the event, which happened this past weekend, Susan B. Anthony Hall Council President Freshman Niru Murali expressed her own excitement about Sue Boo. “Personally, I can’t wait to dress up in my full body penguin costume and get candy,” she said.
Rush Rhees Library hosts a similar traditional event – Scare Fair.
“Scare Fair is an annual event sponsored by the River Campus Libraries and held at Rush Rhees on or around Halloween,” Library Assistant Solomon Blaylock said. “It’s a chance for us to say thank you to our patrons with treats and entertainment, as well as to help people feel more comfortable making their way through the stacks.”
In the “Stack Stalk,” the Fair’s main attraction, students must hunt down and secure several different books burrowed within the stacks—the storage spaces for books. If successful in this scavenger hunt, students are able to take a tour of Rush Rhees’ famed tower.
“Participating in the Stack Stalk is a fun way to get to know the building—ticketholders choose one of two routes to locate four different books related to the Scare Fair theme,” Blaylock said. “This year [the theme is] Dante’s Inferno.” Scare Fair will also feature food—there will be “two big tables in the lobby piled high with donut holes, apples, and cider”—a photo booth with costumes and a backdrop, and performances by student groups, such as the YellowJackets and the Sihir Bellydance Ensemble. The event, which will begin at 1:30 PM on Halloween, will “culminat[e] in a costume contest at 3:30 PM, hosted by [Dean] Paul Burgett”—adjunct professor of music and senior adviser to the President at UR—“who’s always great,” explained Blaylock, who is co-chairing the Scare Fair Committee this year with Amy Lunn, Rush Rhees’ Q&I manager.
Scare Fair was created in 1998 as a way to both host a fun, Halloween-themed event and to help participants find their way around the library. “They wanted to make the stacks less ‘scary’ to the University community,” Blaylock said. “Traditionally, it has been tricky for new students, faculty, and staff to learn how to find their way around Rush Rhees, and parts of the building used to be a bit more remote-feeling and spooky.”
Both students and staff look forward to the Halloween tradition. “The staff is great about dressing up, and even though it’s a lot of work, it’s just a great time all day long,” Blaylock said. “My favorite thing about Scare Fair is probably a tie between getting here early in the morning to decorate the lobby while it’s still dark and quiet, and just walking around during the mad rush of it when the building is packed with students…Students tell us that they look forward to it every year.”
Blaylock perhaps best summed up the spirit of Scare Fare—and UR’s Halloween season—with a simple reflection. “It’s all just a lot of fun,” he said, quickly following with a confession that he “always stuffs himself with donut holes.” Food and fun—what more could anyone ask for during Halloween?
Trombley is a member of the class of 2017.