Friday, October 11, 2013
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Jaycee Haunted House promises more nightmares than lullabies

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[October 11, 2013]  If you have grown accustomed to stellar spookiness and hair-curling fright at the annual haunted house sponsored by the Lincoln Jaycees, then you are in for a big treat this year. The Jaycees will open their haunted house tonight with a theme of "Nightmares and Lullabies." But don't expect to walk away humming your favorite childhood lullaby, because it just isn't going to happen.

Perry Payne of the Lincoln Jaycees said on Tuesday night that the group had tried to figure out how long they have been doing a haunted house in Lincoln, and they couldn't exactly pin it down. Most of the members remember haunted houses as far back as the early 1970s. With that much experience, they have become experts at figuring out what will give you the willies and the chills.

The tour of the house this year begins in a child's room, but that is as much as you're going to get about that particular area of creepiness. Moving down long, dark, narrow hallways, working through intricate mazes and feeling the walls close in on you is just a portion of the thrill that visitors will experience.

Payne said the Jaycee haunted houses are well known for their mazes, and this year's offering will not disappoint returning visitors.

In addition to the mazes this year, there are several special rooms with frightening special effects as well as live actors who will make wish you were at home in your safe, warm bed.

And if you plan to go this year, be sure to wear your long pants, or bring your kneepads, because there will be a point when you feel like your only way out is to get on your hands and knees and crawl.

Also be on the alert. Payne said that rumor has it that a particularly famous slasher intends to hide out in the haunted house, perhaps looking for his next conquest.

Payne said the Jaycees begin early in the year thinking and talking about what the haunted house will be. The group comes up with its own ideas of themes, then develops them into a working plan.

By early September they have a master plan and start working on building the mazes and spook rooms. The club has about 20 members and enlists the help of an additional 15 volunteers to get everything put together and ready by opening night.

Once the construction is near completion, the house is inspected by the Lincoln Fire Department to assure that it is safe. To assure that anyone inside the house can get out easily, there are emergency escape doors in nearly every section of the spook house.

The Jaycees rely on the proceeds from the haunted house to fund other projects throughout the year. The organization typically does three large community service events: the Senior Feast at Thanksgiving time, Angel Tree at Christmas and the very popular Jaycee Easter Egg Hunt in the spring.

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Payne said that because they want the funds to go toward community service projects, they work out the details of the haunted house in the most economical way possible. The house relies on volunteer workers to get it put together, and they have several items that have been donated by individuals and businesses and are modified to become props in the house. They also have a collection of props from over the years that they repurpose to fit the current theme.

The Lincoln Jaycees is a Junior Chamber organization open to members between the ages of 18 and 40. The purpose of the organization is to help build the skills needed to be successful in business. The Jaycees are always looking for new membership. Anyone who is interested in becoming a part of the organization can talk to Shawn Eckert, president of the group, to Payne, or they can visit the website at

Payne said that while the haunted house activity is fun, it is also a teaching activity.

Those who work on the planning and implementation of the haunted house gain experience in planning a project and overseeing its successful completion. They also gain experience working with public relations and promotion.

Payne said members get to exercise and improve their leadership skills through the house. The house is divided into sections, with one or two members being fully responsible for a particular room or maze. The members gain leadership skills by working with other members and volunteers, leading the group through the process of building the space.

The haunted house located at 325 S. Chicago Street in Lincoln,  opens tonight at 7 and will close at 11. The rest of the schedule for this year will be Oct. 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, and Nov. 1 and 2. The nighttime "lights-off" events are recommended for ages 12 and up. For the younger thrill-seekers, there will be two "lights-on" matinees, on Oct. 19 and 26 from 5 to 6 p.m.

To meet the financial needs of the organization's community service events, Payne said they are hoping to have a minimum of 1,000 visitors this year.

If you've gone to the Jaycee Haunted House in the past, you're sure to enjoy this one just as much, if not more than all the previous houses. If you've never gone, be warned, it is a great show, filled with twists, turns and stellar creepiness, but it is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for the creepy-crawlies at every turn, and be careful whose hand you decide to hold on to!


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