It’s a bit of an understatement – to say the ninth annual Princeton Halloween Family Fun Night was frighteningly successful.
Held Saturday and organized entirely by volunteers, this year was the biggest party ever according, to “Queen of Halloween” Jen Bernard. Approximately 1,570 people poured through the gates of the Princeton Exhibition Grounds.
The much anticipated holiday extravaganza has it roots in an old-time local tradition of fireworks and a bonfire – at one time hosted by Princeton’s volunteer fire department.
Nearly a decade ago Bernard and a group of ghoulish residents decided to raise the idea from the dead, and it has grown in scope and popularity ever since.
“The first year we had it there was no spook house. It was food, games, a bonfire and fireworks, the first one we did. I think there were about 630 people that first time.”
The very popular spook house, now a centerpiece of the celebration, was originally introduced as a series of static displays.
“People said it wasn’t scary enough,” Bernard recalled.
That’s when more volunteers got involved to make the spook house more interactive and thus terrifying.
Saturday night 14 creeps, monsters, ghosts and zombies were stationed throughout the dark and decorated corridors, wielding weapons and jumping out at nervous victims who were taking in scenes such as cooks barbecuing what looked to be human remains, and a woman apparently dining on her own intestines.
“We had a gentleman stop at the front of the spook house after he came out. He and a bunch of people had just come back from Vancouver and they had gone to spook houses down there.
He said: ‘you guys don’t have the animatronics and stuff like that that they have down there, but you equal them in shock factor.’”
It took 28 days to build the spook house, and cast and crew members have already come up with new ideas for 2019.
“We all talk all year long. We weren’t even finished building this one and the theme and plan – which I am not going to tell you – is already set for next year,” said Bernard. “They have big, big ideas and I love them for it.”
Other highlights of the night included a movie house and children’s spook house, crafts and games for kids, 20 minutes of fireworks and an enormous bonfire that is employed annually to recycle waste from the exhibition grounds.
“Most of it is cleaning up the fairgrounds. There’s the horse area, redoing pens this year and we’ve redone fencing over the years, and all that wood goes into the fire. We had destroyed picnic tables that got put in this year.”
Bernard added the event continues to be solidly backed by the local fire department. This year the Kokanee Swim Club ran the barbecue, while donations were accepted for the coming Princeton Christmas Hamper campaign. The fall fair and rodeo committees contributed food and everything was free for guests.
The Town of Princeton annually supports Halloween Family Fun Night with a $3,000 grant in aid, while businesses and individuals also contribute.
“I cannot thank my family and the volunteers enough for the passion they have for this event. And we definitely cannot thank our community enough for supporting us,” said Bernard.
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