The Gustavian Weekly

Haunted Arb Trail spreads spooky spirit to campus - The Gustavian Weekly

By Emily VanGorder - Staff Writer | November 6, 2020 | Variety

With Halloween falling during a period of increasing COVID-19 cases, students on campus were forced to get creative with their Halloween holiday plans. Co-Presidents of the Epsilon Pi Alpha (“Eppies”) fraternity, Seniors Joe Lackner and Connor Cress, came up with the idea of hosting a haunted Arb trail based on a similar event they attended during their first year on campus back in 2017.
“We brought up the idea of asking the Deltas [Phi Omega] to join since there’s not much going on this year and it would be a good way for us to get both of our chapters involved. With new member education and recruitment for fraternities and sororities wrapping up, [it was] a good way for our new members to get involved and see what we really do on campus,” Lackner said.
“It was really fun. We like each other and we like to do stuff with each other, so we were more than happy to help each other out with that,” Delta Phi Omega sorority member Senior Hana Pokornowski said.
Planning for this event began with Cress and Lackner meeting with Assistant Director of Campus Activities Julianne Watterson to present their idea.
“She liked it, and told us we had to expand a little more and reach out and make sure we arranged everything properly, in order to make sure we organized everything correctly so we could guarantee it would be a COVID-19–safe event,” Lackner said.
Planning also required a lot of coordination with Arb staff and Campus Safety. The Eppies and Deltas worked with their active members to get people to participate in the event by dressing up, working the sign-in table, and bringing props for the trail.
“We made a committee with a couple people from both the fraternity and the sorority to be the middleman and relay the information to the groups. There were lots of little extra steps, like waivers, safety plans, scanning IDs [at the event], and [making sure] people weren’t touching the same pens,” Pokornowski said.
The organizations ran into some issues while planning the event, namely with coordinating the different schedules of their members and prioritizing different commitments.
“Making sure that people signed up, knew what they were doing, what they were wearing, had all their things, and keeping everyone else in the loop was very important. We struggled at times, but we got there,” Pokornowski said.
The trail began at the Arb’s Melva Lind Interpretive Center, where there was a check-in table for people to scan their IDs and enter their names in a prize drawing. Greek life members were scattered along the trail guiding participants towards other members dressed up as witches, clowns and even cult members waiting to scare groups of students. The meditation area of the Arb was also set up with a generator that powered strobe lights, fog, and other special effects. The trail ended by Southwest, and took about ten minutes to walk through.
Extensive planning had to be done to accommodate social distancing and pandemic safety requirements. Student participants and members of Greek life were required to wear masks. To maintain social distancing, groups of students were let in about once every minute, as soon as the prior group had crossed a monitored spot on the trail.
“About halfway through, when the bulk of people started showing up, Andrea Junso, who was our supervisor for the event, helped monitor that and make sure people were spaced out. We limited it to [about] four people per group… It was a combination of us members and students as well as our supervisors controlling that and making sure everyone was safe,” Lackner said.
Over 450 students participated in the haunted trail, taking into account those who didn’t scan their IDs and those who did the trail multiple times.
“We’ve also gotten a lot of emails from Admin, we got one from [Junso], the Arb staff, our Greek advisor Julianne [Watterson]… we’ve gotten a lot of compliments,” Lackner said.
Lackner and Pokornowski hope those planning similar events in the future allow more time for set-up before the event, as set-up took longer than expected.
“Maybe we could make everyone come a little earlier than we actually need them to. We were setting up one of the main portions of the trail right when it was starting, which was stressful. We got it set up pretty quickly, which was good,” Lackner said.
The Inter-Greek Council gave the two chapters a large amount of money to purchase props and equipment for the haunted trail, which can be reused for future events.
“We figured that if we wanted to make this something that happened again, this year would be the year to request a lot of that money to buy those props so we can reuse them and in the future, when there are more events on campus, we can keep expanding our inventory… we will be handing those down hopefully for the next couple years so they [Greek Life] can do this again,” Lackner and Pokornowski both said.
“We’re very thankful for the help that we’ve had, from all the administration, individuals who have worked with us, all of our active members in both the fraternity and sorority, the campus activities office staff, arboretum staff, and student workers who were very helpful,” Pokornowski said.

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