I can still remember every single detail of the day when my college hockey career ended. I can still feel every pain of that day, every fear I had for the future. I remember feeling like my life of isolation would now begin, since I would never again be a part of a competitive college team. Then, ValleyScare came along.

I had always wanted to work in a haunted house. A huge Halloween junkie, every year I would go to haunted houses, coming out each time speculating with whoever I was with how much fun it would be to have such a job. So last summer, I applied to ValleyScare on a whim, hoping I would get hired, but knowing I wouldn’t be disappointed if I wasn’t. Little did I know, ValleyScare was desperate for haunted house actors.

Freshly hired, I attended the first required “casting call,” where we ended the meeting by deciding what kind of a monster we wanted to be, “crazy” or “creepy.” I had such a hard time deciding, since I thought I would be best fit in an insane asylum using all of the crazy voices and impersonations I had created over time, but ultimately decided on “creepy.” Every time I had visited ValleyScare, I distinctly remember going through the vampire house and wanting desperately to work there of all the houses, which is what I chose. That decision marked my birth into the Chateau Du Dam, and to being a newborn vampire.

The first “house training” we were required to attend allowed us to meet our fellow co-workers and to learn the nooks and crannies of our new home. We became acclimated to each other, and got to practice scaring towards the end. I remember being nervous to give a good impression and slightly embarrassed by my unpolished scaring techniques, yet overly excited to become a vampire and comfortable with my new home.

Then the first night of Haunt, the other name for ValleyScare, was finally here. Each night consisted of the same ritual. I would get to the park, pick up my costume, get ready for the night, go to Rally (which is where all the monsters meet and party until the park opens), get my makeup done, and then get settled into my place in my haunted house. I knew immediately this is where I belonged.

I spent my first half of the Valleyscare season under our dining room’s table, where I would pop out and scream, which I found was one of the best hiding places. The very first night, I scared someone so bad, they jumped back and kicked a chair into my face, hitting me right in the face. I continued my scares until everyone had exited the room, nursed my pain, and got right back under the table. Based on that reaction, I knew I was doing something right.

I spent the second half of the ValleyScare season in our house’s throne room, which has a massive throne and pedestal that someone can stand on. I was getting to know everyone more and more, and everyone was beyond welcoming, kind, and encouraging. I always had someone to complain to, to laugh with, and to help me think of better scares. I literally felt at home.

Fast-forward to the end of the season. At this point, ValleyScare was getting slightly unbearable. As Halloween grew closer, the guests became more unbelievably rude. My fellow vampires had been spit on, had their boobs grabbed, been called names, whistled at, concussed by a guest, harrassed, nearly puked on, and slapped. But those incidents actually brought us vampires closer. We would support each other, encourage each other, and make fun of the rude guests together. Those disrespectful guests made us protective of our home and of our “blood-sisters” and “blood-brothers,” as some of us conveniently called each other.

Even though I became worn-out as the season concluded, I couldn’t wait to do it all over again.

ValleyScare was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I made lifelong friends, unforgettable memories, created an alternate persona (calling myself Riss VonRouss), grew extremely close with my coven, learned so much about haunted houses, and even got to enjoy the park for a day. I instantly felt like a part of a team. It wouldn’t matter who you bumped into in the locker room, everyone was so kind and willing to help. If you couldn’t get your costume off or needed another makeup wipe, someone was always there to offer you another one. If you needed a piece of silicon taken off your face, someone was always there to help. Every night, the same girl in the costume department would zip my dress up for me without hesitation. I couldn’t believe how kind and excited everyone else was, and how much fun I had overall.

My coven literally lives in our house. One day I came in and sat down chatting with a fellow vampire, waiting for the night festivities to begin for a good hour. Every night we’d lay on the bed, climb on the ropes, chill in the throne room, sneak around the garden, and would skip through all of the secret doors and pathways to talk to each other. We knew each others’ scares, noises, hiding places, and would set each other up for great scares. Not to mention, our house is absolutely stunning inside.

As I write this post in mid-February, my skin is crawling waiting for the upcoming Haunt season. I would do anything to be able to walk through my Chateau right now, to sit on the throne, to see my fellow vampires, or to deliver a ridiculous scare. I miss losing my voice every night, leaving the park sounding like a scratchy cafe singer and telling my co-workers stories about rude guests or how we would direct guests into walls (haha!).

I  miss it all, and it’s unbelievable knowing I have a second family that loves and supports each other so much. There’s not one person I dislike in my coven, and there wasn’t a single night I didn’t want to be there. If you ever want to do something in life that you’re afraid of doing or aren’t sure if it’d be fun, my advice is to absolutely do it. I had no idea I’d have as much fun as I did, and I grew as a person and made so many friends from this experience. Don’t be afraid. Do what you want. Life is too short for maybes or next times. I did and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else than in the Chateau Du Dam.


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