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Arts and entertainment for the Eastside October 2011

Trick or Treat? Way better than a haunted house, Nightmare at Beaver Lake heats up Halloween

16-year-old filmmaker Bellevue teen Ben Kadie destined for greatness on the big screen

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Photo by Chad Coleman

It’s a little spooky this month Dear reader, I have a mission for you – if you dare. Grab your coats, hop in the car and hit the road to Sammamish. Here, you will find strange and eerie delights and confront some of your worst fears at Nightmare at Beaver Lake – similar to the idea of a haunted house – but taking place over three-quarters of a mile in Beaver Lake Park. Walking (or running, if you’re like me and are easily terrified) through the dark woods, you will meet ghouls, deranged fiends and freakish characters. Depending on how you do with horror movies, it’s either the worst, or best, Halloween you could hope for. Scariness-wise, it makes most haunted houses look like a “Sesame Street” set. When people attend this haunt, featured on pages 1011, they probably have all the expectations that come with Halloween. It will be dark, macabre, and leave visitors high on adrenaline, hearts pounding with fear. But what they may not realize, is something good comes out of it, and I’m not just talking about the visitor’s thrill of being freaked out. Over months of planning, training the actors who make the haunt come alive and building the fantastic sets, the organizers of this event form friendships and for some, finally find a place where they belong. Additionally, scaring people actually helps people. When you attend Nightmare at Beaver Lake, bring some non-perishable food or canned goods. You’ll get $1 off your ticket price and donate to a worthy cause like Eastside Domestic Violence Program. Last year, the haunt generated $7,000 for local charities and organizations and donated more than 2,000 pounds of food. In other words, have fun, do good. Happy Halloween!

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Nightmare at Beaver Lake will leave you screaming

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Screa The

Visitors come face-to-face with nightmares at Beaver Lake Park gabrielle nomura At first glance, Dana Young is the last person who would scare you. The stay-at-home mom loves to bake and solve puzzles. She volunteers in her kids’ schools and greets her Microsoft husband at the end of each day. Plus, her 5-foot-2-inch stature is not what you’d call intimidating. But beware – appearances can be deceiving. Each Halloween season, this suburban mom transforms like a werewolf beneath a full moon. Young and 300 other volunteer actors are what make the haunted adventure, Nightmare at Beaver Lake, come alive with gory ghouls and spooky characters each year. Their one mission – scaring you. This is not the typical haunted house with mechanical crows, pop-up monsters and the lackluster finale of a man holding a rubber chain saw. It’s a nightmare come to life, a thrill-seekers paradise. “Our haunt is different because it’s theatrical, actors are coming up and interacting with you,” says Young, who has played every character from lunatics, to half-animal/ half-humans. “There are a lot of ways actors can scare you including startling, staring, sniffing and acting in a way that’s unexpected. Even if you came through the haunt twice, it would be different each time.” This improvised show put on by the actors is an essential part of the haunt, which takes place over three-quarters of a mile of haunted wood in Beaver Lake Park in Sammamish. The path winds through sets with spooky graveyards, carnival kitchens or giant, swirling vortexes with trippy black light and clowns, depending on the theme that year. This October, visitors will face a haunt called “We Know What Scares You.” As usual, Young is looking forward to the adrenaline rush she loves, scaring the wits out of people’s minds – and sometimes, even something wet from people’s pants. “We do have a Pisser Pants Award for whoever can confirm making an adult pee their pants first,” said Young, the proud recipient of last year’s award. Young emerged as the winner when, in character as a ghoul, she went up behind a woman and sniffed, like an animal surveying its prey. That was all it took. Young’s victory was confirmed by a security guard on hand, who happened to be carrying a flashlight. Several of these or similar “little accidents” happen each year. “Instead of trying to keep it a secret, people always seem to throw their hands up in the air and say, ‘Oh my God, I just peed my pants,” Young says. But Young isn’t on a mission to make people pee-their-


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their worst in Sammamish

pants-scared, per se. “At 5’2,” I don’t mess with anyone who’s shorter than I am,” Young says. “My favorite part is when they scream, and then they laugh.” Bringing the joy of scaring people to Sammamish was originally for the teenagers there, who, between school and home, were fairly bored on the plateau, according to responses from a survey put out by the Sammamish Rotary Club in 2004, asking participants how the city could be improved. That same year, the haunt was born, giving something for teenagers to both attend and participate in. Nearly 4,000 people screamed their way through the

Ghosts, Ghouls and Gore – oh my! : Dana Young (top left) and Andy Nix (center) in full Nightmare at Beaver Lake makeup. CHAD COLEMAN, Photos. Two scenes from last year’s haunt (above and bottom left), a vortex with clowns and an electric chair, complete with victim. COURTESY PHOTO nightmare over a four-night period. Last year, more than 9,700 people enjoyed the haunt over 11 spooky nights. Teens, as well as community members like Young bring it to the next level each year; adding more elaborate sets, such as a giant trebuchet and organizing an event filled with actors that jump out of nowhere, and somehow, know visitors by name (a sneaky trick). But aside from the customer who pays to get spooked, Nightmare at Beaver Lake benefits people in need by donating food and money to charities. Visitors receive $1 off their ticket if they bring a food donation, and last year, the haunt raked in 2,430 pounds of canned goods and non-perishable items that were donated to Eastside Domestic Violence Program. Additionally, organizers made donations totalling $7,000 to groups that helped out with the haunt, the Issaquah Senior Center and Sammamish Youth Board, among others. The fact that scaring people helps others is what makes Nightmare a perfect volunteer activity for ordained minister, Rev. Shane Mitchell, who’s been involved since the haunt’s early years. Finding a safe, positive and fun environment to let human emotions of hate,

anger or even insanity be channeled in a way that benefits charity is one big “love fest,” as Mitchell puts it. “When I found scare, I found a way to express those things society says we can’t do,” Mitchell says. “That was cathartic for me.” Mitchell, an advanced scarer, once frightened a teenage girl through the haunt, onto the shuttle that takes visitors back to the parking lot, and even jumped into the car with her confused dad, speaking in a deranged voice that he was going to “live under her bed from now on.” The girl was freaked out – but she couldn’t get enough of it, Mitchell says. Scaring is a free, legal high that really does benefit everyone involved, Young says. The visitor gets an unforgettable Halloween, charities receive a donation and the person doing the scaring benefits in many ways, too: finding a passion for set, costume and makeup design, having the time of one’s life each October and finding a community of like-minded individuals. “Many of us are the freaks, the geeks the misfits,” Mitchell says. “We may not have been the kids on cheerleader squads or the football team, but we need something that we can be a part of too, and that’s what we find in scare.”

Schedule and ticket information: Oct. 20, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-10 p.m. Full Scare Oct. 21, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-11 p.m. Full Scare Oct.22, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-11 p.m. Full Scare Oct. 23, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-10 p.m. Full Scare Oct. 24 and Oct. 25, Closed Oct. 26, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-10 p.m. Full Scare Oct. 27, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-10 p.m. Full Scare Oct. 28, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-11pm Full Scare with special guest character Jason Voorhees available for photos and autographs Oct. 29, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-11 p.m. Full Scare with special guest character Jason Voorhees available for photos and autographs Oct.30, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-10 p.m. Full Scare Oct. 31, 7-7:45 p.m. Family Scare; 8-10 p.m. Full Scare Prices: Family Scare, $8; full scare Sunday-Thursday $12; Friday and Saturday, $15. Bring a can of food to donate and save $1 off the ticket price. Beaver Lake Park: 244th Ave. SE, Sammamish; www.nightmareatbeaverlake.com.

Bellevue Scene - October 2011  

This story won 1st Place in non-daily Lifestyles Reporting for the 2011 Society of Professional Journalists' Northwest Excellence in Journal...