It’s Halloween and you and your friends plan to make the most of it. You read up on reviews of local events and see one that catches your eye. You and your friends decide on a local haunted house and head that way. You pull up to this old and abandoned mansion which by itself already looks haunted. You and […]
It’s Halloween and you and your friends plan to make the most of it. You read up on reviews of local events and see one that catches your eye. You and your friends decide on a local haunted house and head that way. You pull up to this old and abandoned mansion which by itself already looks haunted. You and your friends get out and are greeted by a bloody scarecrow collecting a “fee from the dead” to enter the house. As you approach the front door, the porch creaking with every step, you see a handwritten note pinned to the door. Welcome to your worst nightmare! it reads in a blood red font that sends chills down your spine. You make your way inside and start to slowly inch your way down the scarcely lit hallway. You tremble in anticipation of the monster getting ready to jump out of a doorway at you. You brace yourself so maybe you won’t scream as loud this time. Will it be a witch waiting to cast a spell, a zombie salivating at the thought of having its next meal, or a demon waiting to prod you with his three-pronged pitchfork? Even though you know something is coming, you are still scared and want nothing more than to run. Even so, you and your friends muster the courage to carry on and make it through your third haunted house this season.
Haunted houses are a staple of the Halloween season and an attraction that cements fall as a favorite among people of all ages. Here at Southeast Missouri State University, every Halloween season the residents of Dearmont Hall used to set-up a free haunted house called “Fearmont.” Fearmont unofficially started around 2012, although they didn’t have a formal name when the tradition first began according to the Director of Residence Life at Southeast, Kendra Skinner. Dr. Skinner says they took a couple of years off until 2014, when the event started back up. It was then that they officially started calling the haunted house Fearmont. Sadly, Dearmont Hall is not currently a residence hall, and is subsequently not hosting a haunted house this year.
I wanted to learn more about Fearmont from an inside perspective, so I spoke with a former Dearmont Hall resident, Hailey Leonard, who helped set-up Fearmont and worked as one of the “scarers” –the people who dressed up and scared those walking through the haunted house. When asked about what it was like to be a part of Fearmont in 2018, Hailey said, “It was a lot of fun! We built the house outside of the dorm [Dearmont Hall] generally, but that year it rained and ruined what we had outside, so we had to scramble to make the haunted house inside the dorm. We used bed sheets, blankets, shower curtains, anything that we could to make the place covered and scary.” I asked Hailey if she felt that creating the Fearmont event brought the working residents closer together, and her reply was, “I think so, I mean, before working Fearmont that year I had never met some of the people I saw there. I didn’t even know a few of them lived in the dorm! So, it was a fun way of getting to know my neighbors and interacting with the community.” Fearmont was not only a haunted house, but a project that brought students closer together.
Fearmont is just one example of the many Halloween themed events that have taken place on Southeast’s campus. Events like Trick or Treat & Give Blood, Towers North Halloween Party, The University Center’s Halloween Bake Sale, and Painting Pumpkins Pizza Party have been held on campus and give students and the public fun activities to do during the fall semester.
By Daniel Sanders
Undergraduate History Student at Southeast Missouri State University