The first thing attendees of Haunted Leonard saw on their way to the event was a massive inflatable spider with glowing eyes. They put their names on a waitlist, manned by Lucas Roos ‘21, who was dressed as a pirate. Soon attendees were standing in Leonard Hall’s stairwell, waiting for the scares to begin.
On Oct. 27, the South Campus Community Advisors (CAs) and the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) put on an elaborately designed haunted tour of the Leonard Residence Hall’s fourth floor, now an annual tradition after a hiatus in 2016.
Tyler Raso ’19 and Mollie Greenberg ’19 decided to revamp the tour last year, when they were both CAs in Leonard Hall. “Our way of being excited about [living in Leonard] was to restart this program,” Greenberg said, “but we had no idea what we were doing. We’re not scary people, so it was a lot of improvisation.” Greenberg specifically remembers sitting in her room, trying different recipes to make fake blood.
This year, they were much more prepared. Planning began early in the semester, and eventually actors and organizers were meeting three times a week. “We got the Creative Planning Committee together, established our concept, kind of established room by room what was going on,” Raso said. Many of the participants in Haunted Leonard were CAs, but a fair proportion were members of Greek organizations fulfilling their community service hours, as well as actors that the event organizers knew through the Department of Dance, Drama and Film.
Last year, the Epsilon Delta Mu sorority (EDM) had full control of the last section of the tour, which took place in their lounge. This year, the Creative Planning Committee designed the last room, which was one of the more memorable: a dining table with a severed head (played by Ez Raider-Roth ’19) as its centerpiece.
“I guess looking back at it, the theme [of the tour] was childhood fears,” Mia Fox ’19, a Haunted Leonard organizer and actor, said, citing rooms which play on fears of clowns and the dark. In one room, an actor in a black morphsuit was curled around the leg of a table, performing an eerily convincing impression of a wailing infant. “Honestly,” Fox said, “the minute she put on the morph suit, she came alive.”
As more tours passed through the separate rooms, actors began to experiment with their performances. “On the last one, everyone in their individual rooms decided to follow the group,” Fox said, “which is especially scary because people are scaring you from in front and behind.” One tour group, whose members were all inside a three-person donkey costume, was particularly entertaining to scare, according to Raso.
“Not to philosophize here, but you end up learning a lot about somebody when they’re scared, in a good way,” said Raso. “I feel like the strongest friendships you have are with the people you’re willing to be vulnerable with. In a way, we offer an opportunity for people to be vulnerable together, which builds their relationship, which builds the community.”