Claremont secondary students Ryder Heaney-Corns and Adam Jay might look at lot scarier on the rugby field, but they’re all smiles as some of the muscle that will help organize the props and haunts of Screamfest at Claremont, Oct. 26 and 27. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Screamfest expected to scare up 1,400 at Claremont school

School fundraiser has marched through Saanich for seven years

After seven years at two feeder schools, the Screamfest Spooktacular Halloween event has graduated to Claremont.

Which is timely, as it’s getting to be a big event, possibly Claremont’s biggest ever, said Phil Ohl, one of the many teachers helping to organize it.

“We expect 500 to 700 to show up each night, that’s how many showed up last year,” he said.

Screamfest actually started at Lochside elementary school, and has moved along with the organizing parent of a student to Royal Oak middle school who has now reached Claremont.

It runs next Thursday and Friday night, Oct. 26 and 27, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“It goes from spooky at the beginning of the night for elementary kids to a bit scarier after 7 p.m. for middle and high school age students,” Ohl said.

Screamfest will take over a third of the school with a haunted walk, haunted rooms featuring Claremont theatre students and a barbecue outside with burgers and hot dogs. The dance studio will feature performances by members of the dance program.

There’s also a vortex tunnel to walk, or stumble, through, as well as a midway with bowling, a fortune teller, a Frankenstein castle and a virtual reality game brought by a Claremont grad turned tech entrepreneur.

The parent who created Screamfest has been with it all along but prefers to remain in the shadows. He did say he’s been accumulating props and sets ever since and has stored them annually in a friend’s barn, perhaps the spookiest barn, somewhere on the peninsula.

After a few years at Lochside the event moved to Royal Oak middle school the past three years and was a big hit, drawing nearly 700 students, staff and faculty on each of the two days it ran last year.

“It’s virtually the whole school coming together to put this on,” Ohl said.

At Royal Oak the money raised helped fund its new playground being installed now. At Lochside the money helped fund their outdoor classroom built in 2015.

The event has become more student-run this year where it was previously a volunteer parent-run event.

“We are proud to have the money split up towards many student initiatives here,” Ohl said.

Not only are many of the Claremont students familiar with the event, as they’ve followed it from Lochside to Royal Oak to Claremont, but the Claremont theatre program has also been a part of it since the beginning.

“We recommend people buy tickets ahead of time so we can get an idea of how many people are coming,” Ohl said.

Tickets are $10 per person or $30 for a family pass. Students aged kindergarten to Grade 5 are invited to come between 5 and 7 p.m. with an increased ‘scare level’ for middle and high school students from 7 to 10 p.m.

Parents and family are encouraged to come too. Call Wendi Marshall at 250-658-6672 for tickets.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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