Shelby Rockelein, the fundraising coordinator at Community Rebuilds, said the scariest room in last year’s “Haunted Bunkhouse” event, in which CR decorates its employee housing like a haunted house, was the room with clowns. That gave her the idea for this year’s Haunted Bunkhouse theme: the circus. There will be temporary tattoos, tarot readings, and, of course, clowns.
“We wanted to lean into the thing that was already intrinsically scary: clowns,” Rockelein said.
Planning for the event has been in the works for months; now, Rockelein is focusing on organizing volunteers to create rooms and activities. There will be around seven rooms inside the haunted house and many more activities scattered around the Community Rebuilds campus off 200 E.
“Our work is really big, but it also has a very small focal point—it can be hard to engage the community,” Rockelein said. CR’s mission is to build affordable, natural houses; it does this through the work of interns, who learn about and build the homes. Thus, CR’s community engagement is limited to working with interns, who work for a few months, or homeowners, Rockelein said.
“We were looking for housing- and natural building-adjacent events we could do to bring people into our campus,” Rockelein said, adding that the staff then came up with the idea for a haunted house. Last year’s event was so popular that CR ended up turning people away at the door, so this year, the organization decided to continue it.
This year’s haunted house will be decorated by CR staff and community volunteers, who will all strive to match the genius of Moab local Donna Metzler, Rockelein said. Last year, Metzler created an organ for the room she decorated and played it the entire night.
“She does not hold back,” Rockelein said. Metzler will decorate another room this year, along with a number of local volunteers including a group from the BEACON Afterschool program. Because of that, Rockelein expects an “eclectic mix” of rooms—some that are wildly scary, some that are more tame.
There will be other activities on campus as well: CR will decorate its other employee housing unit, called “The Cottage,” as a kids’ area. Activities in the kids’ area will be put on by the Youth Garden Project; last year, activities included crafts and games like pumpkin tic-tac-toe. The entire event is family-friendly, Rockelein said, but there will be scary elements throughout the haunted house itself.
Rockelein said CR is also looking for performance volunteers like magicians and jugglers, and there will also be a tarot reader and fortune teller. Rockelein is particularly excited about the temporary tattoo parlor, she said: she’s gathering small, 2-inch by 2-inch designs created by local artists to turn into temporary tattoos.
“It’s a different way to show off the artistic prowess of Moab, which was one of the really fun things that came out of last year,” Rockelein said.
The entire event is a fundraiser for CR: the organization is a nonprofit, Rockelein said, so the money raised will go toward CR’s educational programming and operations costs.
“The thing about the haunted house that’s really cool is watching people get excited about Halloween,” she said. “People get really creative … like, there’s people like Donna Metzler, who go all out with the decorations, and then there are people who will make a room where they sit in a strobe light and scream at people. There’s a lot of variation in the haunted house, which is really, really fun.”
If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Shelby Rockelein at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Haunted House event will take place on Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Community Rebuilds campus (150 S. 200 E.)