“The New Paltz Youth Program (NPYP) usually contains unusual life forms (adolescents), but for two nights last week they made their program intergalactic and added a new type of resident: aliens.
On Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 6-8 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 31 from 6-10 p.m., over 30 members of the year-round staff and between 15-20 youth volunteers of the NPYP worked their 26th annual Haunted House. The house is located at 220 Main St., and normally hosts after-school programs and tutoring sessions for the youth of the New Paltz school district.
The wait for the haunted house ranged from 15 to 30 minutes, and groups were told to sign up together and pay their $5 donation. There were snacks and hot chocolate for sale while in line, as well as benches and hay bales to sit down on.
When entering the haunted house, you were initially greeted by two fortune tellers, who introduced you to the house and waited for “Bog” to arrive. “Bog” was an alien hunter, and he led the tour through the alien lab. He described how the 845 area was not ashamed of their alien connection, and has been containing these creatures for years for testing and care. Throughout the house there were countless jump scares, creepy characters and lots of slime—but the scariest part might have been all of the stairs!
There are six full-time staff members of the NPYP, and they have the final call on what the theme will be for the year. Ideas are compiled from youth and students, and then developed to make sure that it is a large enough concept to create a universe with.
The haunted house took just over a month to plan and bring to life, and it was well worth it, bringing in over 350 patrons between the two nights. According to the NPYP Assistant Director Andy Vlad, the first night is more of a test run for the staff to troubleshoot what works and what doesn’t, and see what can be improved for Halloween night.
“The setup process was pretty painless. There were a ton of work study students and interns all working on the projects,” said fourth-year history and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies double-major Tara Manning. “I personally worked 19 hours over the course of two weeks because I just love the Youth Center.”
Although there were many SUNY New Paltz students that helped out, the focus is always on the kids and making them feel included. Most of the scenes had an even mix of young and old characters, and no scene was too scary that parents couldn’t bring their school-age children in.
“I know I was definitely scared at some parts,” said third-year history major Odessa Quinonez. “For a kid’s haunted house, it was much more put together than I thought it would be.”
A lot of the props from the haunted house are reused from previous years, and the program also borrows many items from the New Paltz Recycling Center. The donations from the haunted house will go towards a variety of programs within the Youth Center, from field trips to tutoring and gaming supplies.
Vlad also brought up the importance of having a Halloween program like this for children to work on.
“One of the most important reasons [for the haunted house] is the impact it has on the youth who attend the New Paltz Youth Program and to give them the opportunity to create, build and put into practice a remarkably huge endeavor,” Vlad said. “Youth assist with everything from crafting papier-mâché creatures to workshopping the narrative that ultimately is shown to the public.”