The fourth annual Valley Mission Haunted Pool promises to be appropriately ghoulish and frightening when it opens to the public Friday. Last week as recreation coordinator Jennifer Papich got the Valley Mission Pool ready for its two weekends of scaring she pointed proudly to handmade bloody intestines, zombie coffins, headless dolls and a wall of skulls.
“I love Halloween,” Papich said.
Papich said she got the idea for the event when the city of Cheney ran a haunted pool a few years ago. She got a behind the scenes tour and started making her own plans. Early on she hit Halloween decoration clearance sales, but now she makes many of the props. The prop-making work starts in June and set up at the pool starts about two weeks before the event. This year she was assisted by Parks and Recreation intern Glen Reser. “It’s a very limited staff,” she said. “We rely heavily on volunteers.”
This year Papich has about 120 volunteers lined up. Most of them are high school students, but some are college students who started volunteering at the event when it first started. The volunteers do everything from dressing in costumes to scare visitors to walking people through the maze lit only with black lights.
The haunted pool is recommended for those age 12 and older; younger children are allowed if accompanied by a parent. “Our mission is to scare,” she said. “We want to scare.”
However, Papich has been known to ask her costumed ghouls to tone it down if a youngster seems too afraid. Then the volunteers act more like a ham than the undead, she said.
People don’t have to worry about falling in the pool in the dark. The empty pool has been blocked off with fencing. “There is no swimming,” Papich said. “It might be a little cold.”
Attendance at the event has increased every year as more and more people find out about it, Papich said. Those who attend are also generous: Last year, 460 pounds of food was collected for Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. “It’s awesome scary and fun and cheap,” she said.