From October 13-30, the Candle Lighters hosted their annual Ghost House at the historic Chadbourne Carriage House to raise money for non-profit groups and community projects in the Tri-City area.
The Candle Lighters’ Ghost House has been a staple event in Fremont since it first began in 1969. Each year the organization’s board chooses a new theme to inspire the haunted house’s decorations, with this year’s theme being “Voodoo on the Bayou.” The rooms were decorated in a style reminiscent of the swamplands of New Orleans, with the inclusion of a prop crocodile chewing on a person’s arm. Another room featuring purple lights, an array of hanging spooky items, and piles of tarot cards gave visitors the impression of being inside a voodoo shop. In dark hallways, young volunteer actors played screaming ghouls and blood-sucking vampires. The house also had a Fairy Line in which younger children could experience the haunted house without the risk of being scared by the actors.
Outside the house, several small tents were set up with games for attendees to enjoy and shops for Halloween-themed purchases. Volunteers and Candle Lighters members ran games of spin-the-wheel, pumpkin walk, ring toss, and cup pong. Attendees of all ages were able to purchase tickets to play the games in hopes of receiving a prize. Winners of the games were awarded with unique small prizes, depending on their success, such as worry dolls, necklaces, rubber fingers, and miniature pumpkins. A small general store sold various Halloween themed wares including spider earrings, ceramic pumpkins, color-changing mood rings, headbands, and masquerade masks. If attendees wanted refreshments, they could go to the stands selling caramel apples, popcorn, and other foods. “Even though the event was catered towards a younger audience, it didn’t restrict the fun of playing games and going into the haunted house,” Ghost House Attendee Esha Potharaju said.
Even though the event targets younger children, the organizers hope it can serve as afun community event for everyone. The organizers, the Candle Lighters, are an entirely volunteer-run group, only raising money through the annual Ghost House. “A lot of [volunteers] come here on weekdays at night or whenever we can and work on [the house], and it takes almost a month to set up,” Candle Lighters member Kim Kelly said.
A majority of the proceeds go to the local nonprofits that make requests for donations, such as the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, Fremont Centerville Little League, New Haven Schools Foundation, and Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. In the future, the Candlelighters plan to continue to do their best to create a good Ghost House experience and raise more money to fulfill everyone’s donation requests. “It’s good community fun, everybody really enjoys it, and we donate money to a lot of good charities for different things they need,” Kelly said.