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Lori and Rob Mallory, along with Toby Krabel, have been responsible for scaring people for the last five years with Chrisman’s ‘Scare on the Square’ – a Halloween maze above the Chrisman Public Library.
Going up the long, steep staircase will make all of your nightmares come true. Whether it’s clowns, snakes, spiders or the unexpected, this location is where you want to visit for the cherry on top of your Halloween festivities.
Lori and her husband got their start with haunted houses several years ago while helping a family member with their attraction.
“It was their old house they weren’t living in anymore. They would walk them through probably five or six pretty good sized rooms,” Mallory said.
That was all it took and the Halloween bug had bitten the couple, beginning the search for their own haunted house. When word about a new Halloween attraction in Chrisman spread, the Mallory’s jumped in.
“The first year we did a haunted house, we were in the alley behind the Legion and what is now the cafe,” Mallory said. “That was thrown up with pallets and I think they just thought it was going to be one and done.”
Five years later, the Scare on the Square is the talk of the town when Halloween comes around. Knowing the success of the first year, the possibility of a new location was always a thought. Then Toby Krabel found the perfect place.
“He stumbled upon here (above the library) and it was just being used as a storage place,” Mallory said. “He found this and it has taken us several years to really get everything cleared out.”
The storage boxes contained many items that were used at Cook’s Pharmacy when it was located in the library many years ago. Some of the items are used in the haunted house today, like the beakers and bottles.
Preparation for the haunted house takes up most of the year. “We start for the next year, once this year is over. We start buying stuff once it goes on clearance for the following year,” Lori said.
With COVID last year, the haunted house wasn’t able to happen. Coming out of the lock down, materials are now hard to find. “PVC pipes have been in very high demand, so it’s been very hard to get,” Mallory said.
Part of preparation is coming up with ideas for each room or a possible theme. “We’ve talked about doing different horror movies,” Mallory said. “We’re kind of basing it off of the movie ‘13 ghosts’.”
The movie ‘13 Ghosts’ follows a widowed father who moves into a newly inherited home with his two children. The house, however, has a secret: the dwelling contains a state-of-the-art, elaborate system of moving glass walls that trap spirits inside. Soon the ghosts, which can only be seen through the use of special high-tech spectacles, are loose in the elaborate contraption and are none too thrilled about their predicament.
The maze in ‘Scare on the Square’ will feature ten or eleven of thirteen ‘cells’ throughout the maze and bigger rooms on the other size.
Each year, Lori, her husband, her sister Beth and Toby think of what hasn’t been done before. “One idea was the newer ‘Urban Legends’, one being the creepy pasta,” Lori said. “We talked about doing ‘Slenderman’ and things in that genre.”
The Slender Man is a fictional supernatural character that originated as a creepy pasta Internet meme created by Something Awful forum user Eric Knudsen in 2009. He is depicted as a thin, unnaturally tall humanoid with a featureless head and face, wearing a black suit.
To make the haunted house a success, many volunteers are necessary.
“A lot of it is word of mouth as we talk to people about what we do,” Mallory said. “That’s how it starts and a ‘Oh I would love to come and help’ kind of thing happens.”
Most of the volunteers are high school students and members of the community. “We would like to have more volunteers, even if it’s just behind the scenes to come help build. Even if they don’t want to help with the scare part, we’re ok with that too,” Lori said.
Money raised for the event goes to the Chrisman Public Library. Admission for adults is five dollars and three dollars for kids. If customers want to come through again, they are charged one dollar, but they can not come through with new people due to previous customers letting new ones know where all the scares are.
With a haunted house, some things are too scary for the younger crowd. The first hour of the haunted house is what is known as ‘little kid’ hour.
“We’ll turn lights on and we make it where they aren’t so intimidated by the dark,” Lori said. “We’ve walked through it ourselves and it’s very dark.”
This year, the Scare on the Square will take place October 22nd & 23rd and the following weekend October 29th- 31st beginning at six o’clock for the younger crowd. The adult scares begin at seven and last until everyone in the line has been through.
If you would like to help with Scare on the Square by volunteering for the haunted house or just to set up, search ‘The Scare on the Square’ on Facebook or search Lori Mallory. If you don’t have a Facebook page, you can reach her at 217-808-2375. Be sure to make a trip to Scare on the Square this year and help out the Chrisman Public Library.