The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Manufacturing screams

    Renee Rosenow

    In keeping with their Halloween tradition, the Eau Claire water ski team, The Ski Sprites, will open their annual haunted house exhibit in the Eau Claire County Expo Center on Friday, Oct. 17.

    The theme for this year’s haunted house is a dilapidated chemical factory, or Fright Factory, that had many experiments go awry. It is set up as if OSHA finally shut the factory down, but the ghouls remain to haunt it.

    Producer of the Fright Factory Jeff Ludwikowski said that there will be a condemned sign and rusted metal to create a creepy, authentic theme for the haunted house.

    Ludwikowski spends a lot of time preparing for the haunted house each year and has a 40-minute video produced by a haunted house group in Salt Lake City that he studies to better scare those brave enough to enter the haunted house.

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    The Fright Factory employs the elements of surprise, sight, sound and distraction in their haunted house to better startle their guests.

    Ludwikowski added that some of the best scares do not have to be loud.

    “I have walked up to people and just stood there for up to 45 seconds,” he said. “When they finally realize you’re there they jump about a foot and a half.”

    Two years ago, Ludwikowski and his team constructed roofs over each room in the haunted house in order to better control the sound, which is one key sense to the scares.

    Ludwikowski said the haunted house’s claim to fame is that 50 people work at the haunted house on a given night, which gives the event a very interactive feel. He thinks the elevator ride in the haunted house also makes it a special event.

    Halloween has always been Ludwikowski’s favorite holiday, which led to him becoming more involved in the design of the haunted house.

    A team of six people, including Ludwikowski, work to design the haunted house, all with the handyman experience needed to construct the Fright Factory.

    He stressed the importance of volunteer help in the project. Local boy scouts lend their services to the construction and operation of the event, as well as community members who love Halloween.

    Colleen Weber, a volunteer with the Ski Sprites, said the whole team is very involved in the haunted house and they pride themselves on doing something new with it.

    She said many of the Ski Sprites members put a lot of time into it and Ludwikowski has an undying energy to make the design

    Senior Adam Nagel, a member of both the Eau Claire water-ski team and the Ski Sprites, said that it’s a really great event for the community. He thinks this year’s haunted house will be even better than those in the past.

    Nagel said one of its attractions is how in depth the team goes to create the haunted house. The team works on setting it up over a month before opening.

    More than 3,000 people attended the haunted house last year, and although lines can be long, Nagel said there are scary things going on to keep guests entertained while they’re waiting.

    To gauge how people are responding to the scares during operation, Ludwikowski will sometimes walk through sections of the haunted house. He guarantees it will raise one’s pulse.

    “I’m not kidding, I have seen college guys drop to their knees from being scared,” he said. “I feel we really give people their money’s worth.”

    Weber said she enjoys seeing groups of people go into the haunted house and see who gets scared the most. She said it’s not always women who are most frightened.

    “Be ready for anything, it’s amazing what these people pull off,” she said.

    The Ski Sprites have teamed with Action City this year to provide a promotion targeted for college students. On select nights, they offer two hours of unlimited game play at Action City as well as passes to the haunted house for $15. The promotion is available Oct. 17, 19, 26 and Halloween night.

    Senior Luke Dallagrana is also a member of the university ski team and the Ski Sprites and said that the haunted house is really well done. Among the techniques used to scare are machines, lighting and people jumping out around corners, he said.

    Weber said the Fright Factory is not too tame for college students and that it’s a great attraction for them.

    The annual haunted house is the biggest fundraising event for the Ski Sprites water-ski team. Approximately 100 people from the team and community work on the event each year.

    The Ski Sprites allow the Eau Claire water ski team to fulfill their service learning requirements by volunteering at the haunted house.

    Nagel said he has benefited from the connections he has made with the group outside of campus, and it’s a good excuse to get off campus and do something fun in the area.

    Dallagrana said that everyone involved has a blast working on it, and that it’s great support for a good cause and a community event.

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