The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The Hauntmaster’s dream for Halloween:

‘Bigger, badder, faster, stronger’

The crazy inner workings of the Meadowbrook Asylum will be on display again this Halloween in Frewsburg, N.Y., thanks to the efforts of 11th-grader Craig Rodgers. 

The ex officio member of Zion Lutheran’s youth group will again donate the proceeds of his homemade Halloween haunted house, called an asylum. Last year, Rodgers handed over $1,200 of the $2- and $4-ticket sales to the youth group. With the asylum’s growing popularity, he expects to triple that amount this year. 

Rodgers, who has been creating and producing the Halloween event for the past four years, said calling the house an asylum lends itself to stunts. “There’s lots of banging on the walls,” he said. 

The most popular scenario is sure to be the “Butcher Shop,” noted this Eagle Scout candidate, who likes to give back to the youth group since it was such a big part of his life. “Last year I used a lot of butcher props on loan from a friend in Warren, Pa., like foam feet, arms, legs, heads, all covered in lots of blood and put on festive decorated trays.” While he says the basic formula for blood is corn syrup and food coloring, he stops short of giving up his secret recipe.

The event is also a family affair, with his cousin acting as the butcher, and parents, Craig and Megan, and three siblings helping. School friends and youth group members also play spooky parts, like working a chain saw, running around covered in cobwebs, wielding axes and being the hooded guides. 

The Hauntmaster, as Rodgers refers to himself, said the key to the asylum’s success last year was convincing the landlord to let him use an available storefront at the Warren Mall rent-free. “She gave it to me, but I had to promise to give all the money to the church youth group,” he said.

Not a problem for the burgeoning mechanical engineer who wants to specialize in robotics and animatronics, because he really likes his church. “I’m an active member of my church,” he said. “People look to me when they need an acolyte. I’ve grown up with my parents saying, ‘We’re going to church on Sunday,’ and I liked Sunday school.”

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