In this October 2011 photo, volunteers with the Big Brothers and Sisters of Brandon put on a show for a select group of visitors to the Haunted House on Princess Avenue. This year, the group has organized the Haunted Forest, at Turtle Crossing Campground, which will open on Thursday.
Big Brothers and Sisters of Brandon are moving their eighth annual Haunted House fundraiser outdoors this year for the first time.
In past years, the event has been held inside empty buildings in Brandon, but this year they wanted to change things up, according to one organizer.
"That first year ... we were just completely blown away by the response of the community," said Cathy Slezak, a Big Brothers and Sisters of Brandon case worker. "We’re hoping doing something a bit different this year, being outside, will add some new life to it or just get people excited about it again."
The Haunted Forest, at Turtle Crossing Campground on Grand Valley Road, opens Thursday through Saturday this week. Other dates include Oct. 17-19, 23-26 and 28-30.
The Haunted Forest will be open weekdays from 6:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. and on weekends from 6:30 p.m.-11 p.m. with a "no scare" hour between 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
"If people want to come out and see us, if kids want to be in costumes, that would be a good time," Slezak said. "There will be no scaring and nobody jumping out at you."
Admission is $5 per person with all proceeds going to Big Brothers and Sisters of Brandon.
Last year’s event raised nearly $20,000, which has been the trend over the past couple of years, Slezak said.
"This has become our second-biggest fundraiser."
Slezak has been involved with the event since it first started and said it takes more than 50 volunteers to put on each year. This year’s volunteers will also include several high school students working on completing their volunteer credits.
But Slezak said they are always looking for more volunteers, whether it’s for fundraising events or those looking to become a big sister or brother.
"Anything that we can do, even if it’s a fundraiser, we like to use it also as a recruitment tool," she said.
The average wait time to get paired up with a big brother or sister is two to three years, and there are currently more than 50 kids on the waiting list, she said.
"We really need to get some of these kids on our waiting list matched," she said. "We’ve had some kids waiting five or six years, that would be the longest, but that’s too long."
For more information or to learn more about volunteer opportunities with Big Brothers and Sisters of Brandon, call 204-727-1787.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 8, 2013