APEGNB haunted house back with COVID-19 restrictions

Thrill-seekers 10 and up can still anticipate creepy tours at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. (NeONBRAND/Unsplash)

For 12 years, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick has organized a haunted house and COVID-19 hasn’t stopped them. Thrill-seekers 10 and up can still anticipate creepy tours, said Courtney Steeves, the executive director of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre.

But the haunted tour will look different because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“This year, it is a ticketed event,” said Steeves. “There’ll be a limited time that people are inside.”

Tickets for the haunted house are sold on the Charlotte Street Art Centre website in 15-minute slots. Steeves said the time slot will leave plenty of time for groups to finish the haunted house since it takes five minutes to complete.

Other COVID-19 procedures include mandatory masks, screening questions, applying hand sanitizer and sanitizing the space after each person. Steeves said she is doing everything to ensure a safe tour for everyone.

“Each section has its own theme,” she said. “There’s some secrets [as well] that we can’t give away.”

But not all Halloween events are going ahead. The Nightmare on Smythe Street, a week-long event, was cancelled because of the pandemic. The event is presented by Ambulance New Brunswick benefitting the CHIMO Helpline.

Jesse Hitzroth, a paramedic and member of the Nightmare on Smythe Street team, said cancelling the event was not an easy decision. Hitzroth also said most of the event coordinators are healthcare workers.

“We take pride in keeping our community safe and healthy,” he said. “There was no way that we could keep things fully sanitized and people spaced out.”

Hizroth said the haunted house normally has an average of 30 workers per night and a crowd of 300 to 400 people, but last year’s haunt surpassed expectations. The four-hour line zig-zagged across the Fredericton Exhibition grounds, he said.

The record numbers were an achievement for the Nightmare on Smythe Street, which began eight years ago in an ambulance shelter. Hizroth said that preparations for next year’s event are already underway and organizers hope to add a few changes as well.

“Going forward [we want to ask] how do we make people feel comfortable coming back to events like this? What can we do to actively promote health and safety?”