Steamboat’s Screamboat 14 haunts a new venue at CMC
October 25, 2012
Steamboat Springs — On a wooden gravestone outside the new Colorado Mountain College academic center was carved the words "R.I.P. Bogue, Monson and Willet halls."
But the memory of the now-demolished Monson Hall won't be resting in peace, not after its spirit as the home of the Screamboat Chamber of Horror is resurrected in Screamboat 14.
Relegated to the new academic center's auditorium, CMC science professor Jimmy Westlake and more than 80 students, faculty and volunteers involved with creating the attraction had their work cut out for them in transforming a large, empty room into a series of haunting chambers where the stuff of nightmares plays out before the eyes of those who dare to wander inside.
"We had to reinvent the wheel," said Jimmy Westlake, faculty adviser of CMC's Sky Club, which hosts the haunted house each year as a fundraiser.
And reinvent they did, using 40 concrete buckets, tall stakes and black plastic to engineer a dark maze.
Screamboat opens at 6 p.m. Friday and runs until 10 p.m., keeping the same hours Saturday and Monday through Wednesday.
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Tickets cost $10 and are available at the entrance. Children younger than 12 should be accompanied by an adult.
Each tour will last about 30 minutes, during which a guide will take groups through a series of scary scenes and spooky skits inside and outside the auditorium. A cast of 38 actors will be playing the parts of deranged surgeons, exorcists, vampires, aliens and, yes, even clowns.
"We know that everybody isn't afraid of everything," Westlake said. "Some people are afraid of spiders, and some are afraid of the dark, so we try to accommodate that.
“We go for not only screams but laughs. We like to take them on an emotional roller coaster.”
The students of the Sky Club relish in the opportunity to develop their roles and scare the living daylights out of the eager patrons, whether through the classic Bob and Dave's haunted dorm room scene or through clever mirror tricks and mechanical wonders.
"When they scream, you know you've done your job," said engineering student Jason Troyer. He said working on the haunted house was a chance to practice the skills he's learning in classes and get some credit at the same time.
But the students agreed there's something intrinsically satisfying about instilling fear into their fellow community members.
"It's more of an enjoyment thing than any of us getting something out of it personally," student Pat Maguire said. "It's a fun thing to put on for the town."
Westlake said the event typically attracts about 1,000 people and raises about $10,000 each year for the club's scholarship fund for science students. It also helps the club take field trips to far-off observatories.
"It's an awful lot of work," Westlake said about the fundraiser. "But the bonding that goes on during the setup is really amazing."
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com