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COLD FEET: Birds take to the ice as winter makes its appearance at Yellowstone National Park. / Photo by Nancy Williams

Today's word on journalism

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Objectivity:

"I still insist that 'objective journalism' is a contradiction in terms. But I want to draw a very hard line between the inevitable reality of 'subjective journalism' and the idea that any honestly subjective journalist might feel free to estimate a crowd at a rally for some candidates the journalist happens to like personally at 2,000 instead of 612 -- or to imply that a candidate the journalist views with gross contempt, personally, is a less effective campaigner than he actually is."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear & Loathing: CORRECTIONS, RETRACTIONS, APOLOGIES, COP-OUTS, ETC., a 1972 memo to Rolling Stone editor Jann S. Wenner, excerpted in the current (November 2007) issue of Harper’s Magazine (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy Merton)

Richmond's Haunted Mansion is good, scary fun

By Brigitte England

October 26, 2007 | RICHMOND -- The Haunted Mansion is giving Halloween enthusiasts yet another reason to stick with northern Utah when hunting for thrills and chills. Along with the Howl, Sherwood Hills, and a plethora of corn mazes, the Haunted Mansion aims to be the next big Cache Valley fall attraction and hopes to bring in a diverse crowd of both students and families.

"We're in this for the long run and our goal is to be like Rocky Point -- that is, nationally recognized over the next couple of years," Haunted Mansion co-owner and president Jamie Forbush said. Forbush has been prospecting in spook alleys for a number of years and decided that the Haunted Mansion would be the place to settle and begin to spook on a grand scale with co-owners Paul DuRee and Quent Casperson.

Rocky Point, a former northern Utah spook alley, was celebrated four years in a row as the best haunted house in the country. While the Haunted Mansion aspires to the superior quality of Rocky Point, it will be attempting to keep the scares on a level that welcomes young kids and families.

"We don't do demonic things like Pin Head, and we do like to keep it toned down on Monday nights because people bring their kids for family night," Forbush said. "We also have a strict rule for the performers that they don't touch the patrons."

Forbush advises to come during the weeknights, especially Monday, if you wish to avoid the lines and the intense scares. Weekends require twice as many actors and stronger scares.

The Haunted Mansion is a literal mansion, and much like an eerie museum, employing real relics from Egypt, antiquated caskets from Ukraine, and a parlor organ that's been around since the pioneers. The massive building itself dates back to 1905.

"Right now we are only using a third of the entire building," Forbush said. "Next year we hope to extend the spook alley into the building to double its size. It's been a first rough year with buying the building and installing a lot of things like 'exit' signs. Next year it's going to be much bigger and better."

Located in isolated Richmond, the setting serves the sinister purpose of the spook alley.

"I almost wet myself just walking in," Rachel Simmons, a patron, said. "The atmosphere is perfect for a haunted house, not like those amusement park-like haunted houses you find in Salt Lake."

The fact that the Haunted Mansion is on the far north side of the county doesn't stop volunteers and actors coming in from all over the valley every night to spook thrill-seekers.

"Some are professional actors that have been involved with spook alleys before and some are just amateurs, but they all do well at what they do," Forbush said. "Anyone can be in it, it's fun to do and it's really something different for people to get involved in."

Kaylor Pierce, a young volunteer, may be just a beginner, but he is a proficient when it comes to scaring people right off their feet, including this reporter.

"I went through the haunted house with my dad and I just really liked it, so when we came out I got signed up," Pierce said. His favorite part of being in the show is operating "the bride" and simply scaring people silly. Pierce has the lofty goal of toppling at least thirty patrons this season.

Derrick Hughes of Providence is spook-alley proficient, having been involved in so many over the years. Hughes plays a major role in the Haunted Mansion and gives patrons a reason to leave with a fireplace phobia.

"We know we do a good job when people need Depends diapers when they come out," Hughes said. "We've had a few people actually come out with wet pants."

The Haunted Mansion is not only in the business of thrills, but also charity. Each customer receives $2 off the $14 entry fee if they bring a can of food to donate to the Food Pantry.

"We have collected a lot of food, but it's still not enough," said co-owner Quent Casperson, alluding to the mountain of cans in the corner of the entryway into the Haunted Mansion. "I guess there is never enough food at the Pantry, but this time of year is especially hard to keep the food in stock."

The Haunted Mansion will be running until Saturday, Nov. 3, excluding the day after Halloween. The two final days of operation will be half price and customers are invited to bring cans to receive a discount.

"Those two last days are going to be good because we keep adding on to the whole thing," Casperson said. "Every day it gets better."



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