By Ryan Gueningsman
A Halloween tradition from the 1990s in Delano has returned as the Delano Jaycees are in the heart of constructing and creating a haunted warehouse in downtown Delano.
“When I became president of the Jaycees, one of my goals was to create another signature event, if time permitted,” said Delano Jaycees 2010 President Shawn Petersen.
The chapter’s other major project is its involvement with the Delano Fourth of July Celebration managing the beer stand and other aspects of the festivities.
The idea for reviving the haunted house was kicked around briefly last year, but a location was not found in time. This year, several location opportunities came forward, and the chapter has taken up a temporary home in the former True Value Hardware building on Bridge Avenue.
Chapter members will be working several hours each night over the next few weeks to continue decorating and setting up the different rooms and “themes” of the haunted warehouse.
“We just want to create a ‘jump-at-you’ effect, that people are going to walk out of there saying, ‘I didn’t expect this or that.’ It’s not just going to be filled with decorations,” Petersen said.
Almost 20 people per night are going to be utilized in the operation of the haunted warehouse. To find workers, the Jaycees reached out to the Delano High School National Honor Society and the Youth As Resources programs.
“Getting the youth involved is always key to the success of any event like this, and they can gain experiences, too,” Petersen said.
To begin promotion of the haunted warehouse, Petersen enlisted Brenda Davis of Coborn’s to paint the exterior of the building with the dates and times the haunted house will be up-and-running.
“I knew she did the front end of Coborn’s all the time and it looks great,” Petersen said. “She’s very creative. She donated time and paint for us and it turned out great.”
Inside, long-time Jaycee Martin “Toon” Bauman, and the chapter’s newest member, John Andres, have been constructing walls, hanging black plastic, and laying the groundwork for the project.
“He’s got a dark side to him that I like,” Petersen joked about Andres.
“When John got involved, it really started to happen,” added Delano Jaycees Treasurer Alex Roeser. Bauman, Andres, Troy Farniok of Troy Farniok Construction, and Mark Jonason of Sunrise Construction did the initial construction Sept. 25.
Andres’ parents, Jerome and Marie Andres, own the building, and are donating use of it to the chapter for this project.
“Finding a location is always the hard part,” Roeser said. “We owe a great deal of thanks to the Andres family for allowing us to use the space.”
“Finding a good location that’s safe and has ample space to do what we’d like to do and make it worthwhile for people to come through is the challenge,” Petersen added.
Marketing materials and efforts have been coordinated by 2010 Community Development Vice President Nichole Krause, Roeser, Petersen, and Membership Development Vice President/Chairman of the Board Ryan Gueningsman.
“It has really been a team effort,” Roeser said. A majority of the rest of the chapter members will also be helping out at the haunted warehouse, scaring people, taking tickets, and taking care of general administration of the event each night of operation.
Proceeds from the project will benefit the Helping Hands Food Shelf in Delano.
“We wanted to help the food shelf, given the fact their demand and need has just skyrocketed this year,” Petersen said. “We thought we would really encourage people by offering $2 off admission if they bring a donation to the food shelf.”
Admission to the haunted warehouse will be $7, or $5 with a donation to the food shelf. Special group rates are also available for church or youth groups.
The haunted warehouse boasts “3,666” square feet of entertainment, and will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, Saturday, Oct. 23, Friday, Oct. 29, Saturday, Oct. 30, and Sunday, Oct. 31.
“I’ve always wanted to do a haunted house and it hadn’t been done in the Jaycees for 10 years. I love scaring people,” Petersen said with a laugh. “We’ve got some really good partners on board.”
Jaycee organizers are advising the haunted warehouse will be suitable for children of at least age 10 and older.
“It’s not really recommended for young kids,” Petersen said. “We want adults and teenagers to enjoy it.”
Petersen said the Jaycees hope to establish some partnerships with this, and the long-term goal would be to make it an annual event.
“Delano’s been needing a haunted house of this size for a few years,” Petersen said. “It’s not a necessity, but it’s been commented on that it’s been missed a lot.”
“I remember how much fun it was the last time,” Roeser added. “We had fun in the house and the people who came through really liked it. It was a great fundraiser.”
About the Jaycees
The purpose of the Jaycees is to help with community service and also improve members’ leadership abilities and promote personal growth.
The Delano Jaycees began in April 1981. Shortly thereafter, the chapter began a community project of erecting a fence on railroad property after a train killed a local child.
This project was recognized in 1984 in Montreal, Canada, both nationally and internationally, with the New Zealand Award and the Japan Safety Award. These two awards are both from the international level.
The Delano Jaycees also provide leadership training to its members. Several members have used their leadership skills by getting involved with the community, serving on the planning commission, school board, and the city council.
Over the years, many of the past and current Delano Jaycees have been honored with the highest individual awards from the state level (Minnesota Statesman), national level (ambassadorship), and the international level (senators).
Currently the Delano Jaycees have 20 Minnesota Statesman, seven ambassadors, and three senators. New members are always sought to become part of the chapter. Membership information can be found online at the website below or by contacting Petersen at (763) 972-8274 or Gueningsman at (763) 972-1028.
For more information on the haunted warehouse and the Jaycees, visit www.delanojaycees.com.