BY SAMANTHA CALDERONE, STAFF WRITER
Oct. 16, 1980:
Scranton residents could enjoy “a screamingly frightening experience” as the Junior Chamber of Commerce, aka the Jaycees, presented its fifth annual haunted house at the Fitch Building on Wyoming Avenue.
The haunted house’s horrors included a swamp full of monsters, a cemetery scene and a maze — “a place of total darkness with dead ends and twists and turns with seemingly no way out,” according to a Scranton Times report from the time. Monsters haunting the house consisted of the Grim Reaper, Dracula and more.
Then-Jaycee Treasurer Gerard Welby, who played Frankenstein at the attraction, called the building “an ideal backdrop for such shenanigans.”
The haunted house was a 16-day event in October that began in 1976 when a new member of the Jaycees came up with the idea. Proceeds were donated to local charities such as St. Joseph’s Center, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Easter Seals campaign, along with many others.
The attraction seemed to be most popular among children and teenagers, and each year attendance increased. It was expected that over 4,000 people would visit the haunted house during the 1980 season.
Each year, between 150 and 200 volunteers each played a role in the preparation and operation of the Haunted House, from lighting and effects to performing as a variety of creatures.
This ended up being the final year of ghouls and vampires wandering the halls of the Finch building. The structure was slated for conversion to an apartment building.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast