Confronting the horrors of the Raymond Haunted House

Image courtesy of Karl Rabe at Vassar College.
Image courtesy of Karl Rabe at Vassar College.
Image courtesy of Karl Rabe at Vassar College.

With October Break coming to a swift close, students packed their bags and returned to Vassar to begrudgingly continue the school year. However, it was not a solemn homecoming for most: The week of Oct. 26 to 30 marked the arrival of Halloweekend. Students scurried around campus in their whimsical costumes and attended many Halloween-themed events. In keeping with tradition, the event that kicked off this spectacular weekend was the Raymond Haunted House. 

The Raymond Haunted House was open to all students and faculty on Oct. 26 and 27 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Raymond House basement was thoroughly decorated with Halloween props, which added to the eerie atmosphere that visitors were met with. Albeit most of the credit goes to the student actors and volunteers who played the ghouls and monsters in the event. Gus Pointer Mace ’26 was an actor in this elaborate scheme. They said, “I’ve always wanted to be part of [a haunted house]… I loved it [and] everyone was fantastic!”

Image courtesy of Gus Pointer Mace ʼ26.

Raymond House Student Advisor Brynn Conrad ’24 led this fright-filled operation. This is her second year directing the Raymond Haunted House. Since there was a shortage of scare actors last year, Conrad was determined to get a large group together this year. “Thankfully, I was lucky enough to find a committee of people as dedicated to the spirit of Halloween as I am… [and] got a lot of help from my wonderful committee when it came to getting everything set up for the big night,” she said. 

This committee was composed of students that come from a variety of backgrounds, all with skills central to making the Haunted House as terrifying as it was. One of the actors, Sarah Kessler ’24, had prior experience scaring people. “I actually worked at a professional haunt this past summer, so I figured my skills would be pretty transferable,” she explained. Pointer Mace is skilled at doing makeup and designing costumes. “All the clothes I was wearing were handsewn by me in Spring of last year, and I brought them here after October break [to use in the Haunted House],” they recalled. The Haunted House also allowed students to try something they’ve never thought about doing. A student who wanted to remain anonymous said, “I decided to be part of the house because I was always scared of haunted houses… so I wanted to be on the other side of things.” 

Image courtesy of Gus Pointer Mace ʼ26.

After all the hard work from the Raymond committee, it’s no surprise that the spectacle was a resounding success. The line for this Halloween attraction stretched all the way across the Residential Quad. “It truly warms my heart hearing people talk about how much they enjoyed it and how spooked they were by the scare actors and the set-up,” Conrad shared. “It means that our event did exactly what it was meant to do: give people a little scare in the name of the Halloween season.”

For the actors, there were many special moments inside the Haunted House. Some moments were simple. “[I] really loved [it] when every cue went off right, and people were really scared by my section and the other scarers in it,” Pointer Mace said. Other moments were over the top. “I figured out an extra scare where I would run full-speed at the guests from behind while they’re distracted,” Kessler shared. “It always got the best scares!” There were also moments of pure unadulterated joy. “My favorite moment was when people were scared of my laugh,” the anonymous student said. “It was really fun, very hot, but fun.” Despite her role as the director of the Raymond Haunted House, Conrad also tagged along on the spooktacular fun and was a scarer like the rest of the committee. Here’s what she had to say: “Oh, and being the one to scare them is reeeeally fun too.”

 

Image courtesy of Brynn Conrad ʼ24.

Overall, the annual Raymond Haunted House showcased the eccentric and lively community within one of Vassar’s quad dorms. Conrad shared: “As a student, I have so much love for this house and all its quirks. The community here is genuinely so vibrant, and it is always fun when we get to come together [to] celebrate the wackiness of our dorm (All hail the Rat King!!!)” 

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