Now there’s a whole new Halloween fright


There’s always something about the Halloween season that has appealed to me.

Perhaps it’s simply a matter of timing, as fall is my favorite season of the year. There’s something about that crisp air hitting me in the face, the leaves changing colors and helmets colliding with each other on a football field that makes me feel good inside.

And though I haven’t gotten much into the spirit of dressing up in costume for Halloween for about the last, say, 30 years, I do enjoy seeing other people about town dressed in whatever persona they care to represent that day, and love handing out candy to all the kids who show up that night with their bags in hand and proud parents in the background.

Admittedly, I used to see this whole practice as organized panhandling, but I have softened on that take over recent years. Part of that is because my friends have been gracious enough to bring their children by my house, and part of that is because I have used my old trick of pretending to run out of candy with one bag left so I have some for myself. The original trick involved starting a rumor that the police were showing up to a party so I could keep the rest of the keg to watch football over the weekend and ...

But I digress.

Of course, I also like the whole “scary” vibe around the holiday. I like the horror movies running nonstop on cable television, people transforming their homes into graveyards, and skulls and crossbones greeting you everywhere you might find yourself at any given time. It’s a “fun” fright, without peril, and, to me, that is very much welcomed in a world with so many scary things happening around us in real life.

Now, not all frights around Halloween are benign. I was reading an article on today.com about the Schocktoberfest haunted park in Sinking Hills, Pa. The park itself is decades old, and has been attracting guests to its haunted house annually. This year, they decided to up the ante a bit and provide a different kind of experience to its guests.

For a mere $20 per person, participants can enjoy the “Naked and Scared Challenge.” Those who wish can now enjoy the haunted house in the comfort of their ... well ... their, um ... they won’t be wearing any clothes at all.

“It’s the first time it’s ever been done in the world,” said Shocktoberfest president and owner Patrick Konopelski. “The whole idea is to create this vulnerability and get their defenses down. It can be hard to scare groups, and you usually have to get louder, more chaotic, and more tense, but now if they’re not wearing clothing, it can be more intimate. You can scare with a whisper rather than a scream because people will only huddle so close to one another.

I want to go on record by saying this is the single-worst idea I have ever heard in my life. This actually tops “New Coke” and my rather unfortunate experiment with a white tux and powder blue tie at my senior prom.

My first thought was that people were going to be using cell phones to record naked people in this haunted house and start filling the Internet with videos of their neighbors naked and screaming. Konopelski said that naked people can’t smuggle cell phones very easily into his attraction, but inmates aren’t supposed to have them in prison, either, and we’ve all seen that happens far too much. What about some employee of the haunted house? What about Konopelski, himself?

My next thought was more about self-preservation. If I’m fumbling around a dark house designed to have things pop up when I’m not expecting it, I would guess that I would want more than cool air and a smile between danger and that which I would want protected. And speaking of cool air, if it’s cold in there and someone runs video and it ends up on the Internet ...

Never mind.

Some thoughts are even too scary for Halloween.