Seabury Hall Opens its Doors to the Public for the First Time this Year for its Spooktastic Halloween Drive Through

     The second annual Seabury Hall-o-ween kicked off this year with Mrs. Madden and her husband driving between stations and exclaiming, “the first car will be here in a few minutes!”  watched the students prepare the last few finishing touches to their areas as I wandered throughout the campus, AND  marvelled once again at the speed and skill with which the Seabury students tackled the task set before us only a week ago. At the top of our campus, Sparty (dressed in a suit and tie, something unnerving in itself) was jamming out to the tunes of DJ Chris as seniors greeted visitors with a smile, a bag to collect any candy with, and a map to guide their spooky tour ahead. The circle was decked out as well with orange icicle lights dripping off of the tree as if it were some long forgotten, frozen centerpiece. Beneath the tents surrounding it, students dressed in black costumes and armed with glow sticks exuberantly waved to the oncoming cars, collected donations, and danced as they directed cars onward. A ghostly announcer was the final stop before we entered the haunted campus as he spouted off warnings to keep all extremities in the vehicle (lest they be taken) and wished guests a Happy Halloween. 

     For our opening act, seniors delivered a decadent table covered in candles, curling, leafy centerpieces, and orange and blue lights. The paintings on the wall reflected the LEDs as they shifted, causing the eerie effect of a plethora of moving eyes tracking you as you drove by. Actors dominated the two swaths of lawn on either side of the table, performing gruesome skits behind white sheets lit up by spotlights so that only their shadows shone through. 

     Moving on to the courtyard, some freshmen danced on a bloodied white linen in their best dress while others cackled and stood around tables, inviting the viewer onward with their welcoming signs. The painted backdrop of a haunted castle completed the effect and sheets with spooky images hung from a line between two of the trees, concealing the upper school as they fluttered in the wind and twisted every which way. 

     Although the tunes of DJ Chris had begun to fade, there was a new song rising and it was a very familiar one. “Ghostbusters!” The Seabury Hall dancers worked the entire night, entertaining guests with their wonderfully eerie moves and dedication. In the background, lit by the glowing reflection pond, ghost-like figures waved from the Cooper House balcony. Others appeared like apparitions at the windows, their eyes sunken and back lit by the purple and blue lights strung across the ‘Haunted Manor.’

     In front of the Cooper House, the cars were greeted by two students clutching a bloody axe and peering at them from the shadows of the arch. It was there that I encountered my first graveyard, covered in spider webs and manned by ghouls and ghosts alike. This foreground highlighted the Spooky Kooky Kitchen where a cacophony of pots and pans banging together sent visitors’ spines tingling as they drove past. A massive menu offering gory delights and a witch sitting at a pot gave the distinct feeling of something having gone terribly wrong as actors cackled and leapt from the shadows. 

     Next up was the haunting tones of the Seabury Hall Band and Hawaiian Ensemble! Having added the ‘Halloween Theme’ and the ‘Addams Family’ to their repertoire, they were well prepared for the night. The Hawaiian Ensemble entertained us on ukuleles, playing from a selection of songs including ‘Lei nani’ and ‘Henehene Kou ‘Aka’ while the band displayed a variety of percussion instruments as they played ‘Stand By Me,’ ‘Hall of the Mountain King,’ and ‘March of the Toy Soldiers’ to name a few. Only a few feet away, visitors encountered the “Forest of Horrible Blowups,” a stretch of road crowded by looming ghosts and pumpkin cats and manned by students decked out in glow-stick jewelry and carrying an infectious, happy energy.

     A second graveyard loomed just ahead where ghastly zombies and glowing ghosts played card games among the graves as the grim reaper greeted guests in front of a tree sporting a hanging skeleton. Spiderwebs swept across every inch of lawn and caution tape wrapped the area, glinting under the bright lights staked into the ground by the side of the road. A church cut out materialized in front of cars as they took the curve, seemingly larger than life. This was the final stop before the Field of Screams…

     Our first destination was a ‘COVID Cookout’ where a fire burst and crackled, sending smoke into the air. The wood beneath was shaped like a coronavirus particle and the students peered out from behind it, only their faces showing in the shadowy light. The next point of interest was the ripped and torn fabric hanging from a metal lattice, flapping in the wind as screams of terror reverberated off of the structure. Students in zombie makeup jerked from behind the wooden palettes dotting the road and stumbled into the cars’ headlights as they let loose blood-curdling screams at the passengers. Others stood still in the glow of floor lights and only seldom moved suddenly, running at the cars to the delighted yells of children. Visitors were then faced with the final stretch of the night, a tunnel manned by two guards and followed by a macabre skit featuring three masked actors. Bloodied sheets painted with hands and the word ‘help’ lined the fence up to the exit where a tent with a hanging, ghostly football uniform and a band of students handing out candy ushered the cars into the safety of the quiet night. 

     As the last car rolled through and a hundred kids chased behind it, I stood in the middle of the field and reflected on the joy and magic of the night that we had just created, not only for the children who came but also for ourselves. I interviewed a few students and asked what their favorite part of the event was and I received the same answer over and over again: “I love watching the reactions on the kids’ faces. I can see their faces light up and know that I am making a difference in their Halloween.”