El Cajon Elks present first annual Haunted Lodge for Halloween fun and fundraising

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Have you seen vapors and fogs and seemingly ghostly apparitions dance before your eyes on Washington Avenue? Have you heard late-night screams there recently? Have you observed frightened persons running from the area? If only the elk whose trophy head graces the “Haunted Lodge” lobby wall could speak!  He could tell tales of scares and ghouls and blood and campers lost — and then, unfortunately, found in gory or dead condition.

Have you seen vapors and fogs and seemingly ghostly apparitions dance before your eyes on Washington Avenue? Have you heard late-night screams there recently? Have you observed frightened persons running from the area? If only the elk whose trophy head graces the “Haunted Lodge” lobby wall could speak!  He could tell tales of scares and ghouls and blood and campers lost — and then, unfortunately, found in gory or dead condition.

But if you have looked into these strange happenings for yourself, you may be aware that El Cajon Elks Lodge #1812 has seen the first-ever “Haunted Lodge,” known as Camp Calavera, rising up from eerie campground mists in the west parking lot, for scary fun and important fundraising efforts.

The Lodge’s current Exalted Ruler, Susan Jimenez agreed to explain further. “This is our first annual Haunt,” Jimenez said. “We have a long-term plan for this community event.”

The Haunted Lodge was open for the six nights running from Thursday, October 26, through Halloween night. The Haunted Lodge was created in conjunction with Scare Ventures. Volunteers came from the El Cajon Elks Lodge, other nearby District Lodges, and Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Marines and Haunt enthusiasts, according to Jimenez. The average was 30 volunteers signed up for each night. The overall planning committee included about a dozen people.

Each evening’s haunt performances were split between a “Light Fright” from 6 through 7:30 p.m., targeted for children up to 12 and for the faint of heart. “It will be a fun experience for youth in the community,” Jimenez said.

The full-on scare and creepy decking out of the walk-though maze ran afterward, until 11 p.m. nightly.

Your intrepid reporter walked through both performances of the Haunted Lodge on opening night. The “Light Fright” was scary enough, but still mostly fun-scary for younger kids.

A small group of family and friends went ahead. “Oh, it’s going to be scary,” Virginia Bradley warned her husband, Nick, and friends Costa, Candice, Nikki and Aleko Kotinopoulos.

The later, spookier version earned praise from Haunt enthusiasts for being among the best Halloween scare events. Your formerly intrepid reporter screamed at all the appropriate frights and monsters that leaped out from darkened corners, especially the chainsaw attacker closing out the last of the maze walk rooms.

Proceeds from ticket sales were slated to go to youth charity activities and charities that the Elks support. The statewide Elks charity theme currently is Helping Kids Walk, Talk, See and Play. “Locally we sponsor activities with Sevick School, provide scholarships to high school seniors, lead a Hoop Shoot contest, support Little League and high school sport teams, foster children going to college, and the list goes on,” Jimenez elaborated.

Anything else Jimenez would like the local East County community to know? “The Elks support a wide variety of events and happenings in this community,” she replied. “We welcome interest in our organization as well.” 

The El Cajon Elks Lodge is located at 1400 E. Washington Avenue and can be contacted by phoning (619) 444-1812. More information about the youth charities supported by the Elks can be found at chempi.org.

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