SAE revamps yearly haunted house philanthropy event

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Like many college houses, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity house can be a scary sight of reeking sports gear, blasting music and rowdy students. But next week it will become truly frightening, when every wall is covered with black tarps and the kitchen is transformed into an eerie labyrinth for the annual SAE haunted house.

This year, the fraternity is expanding its philanthropy event for the Children’s Miracle Network—the SAE national charity partner that raises funds for children’s health care—to a Halloween street festival, in an effort to increase community engagement and fundraising.

For over 20 years, each brother of SAE has dedicated their time—between six and 20 hours—toward transforming their house into a haunted mansion that SAE President Torey Ortmayer (junior) rates a six out of 10 in scariness. According to Ortmayer, the fraternity thought it was time to upgrade their biggest philanthropy event of the year.

“It was starting to get stale,” he said. “We’re looking at ways that we can do more with our time and our resources.”

The haunted house will still run from Wednesday, Oct. 29 to Friday, Oct. 31. On Halloween, SAE will block off a section of Avenue 49 at 5:30 p.m. for the community street festival.

The festival is an expansion of Trick-or-Treat on Greek Street, an annual event in which SAE and other Occidental Greek organizations provide candy and activities for the neighborhood. This year, SAE will partner with Raw Records, Hyper Xpressions, Dance Team, Fantastiprov and other Occidental organizations to provide live entertainment. Spitz will also sell food at the event.

“I think it will get a larger draw from the neighborhood,” Ortmayer said. “It is important for Greek organizations to be reaching out to the community at large.”

In order to encourage community involvement, ticket prices for community members are cheaper than those for Occidental students. Tickets ($3 for community members, $1 for children and $5 for Occidental students and faculty) will cover entrance to the street festival and the haunted house and also double as coupons for Spitz. SAE hopes to encourage attendance with a bundle deal that includes a shirt and ticket for a discounted price.

Ortmayer said that he is eager to see if the event’s expansion will bring a greater return. SAE raised about $2,000 last year and wants to pull in $5,000 this Halloween.

“We’re definitely sure that we’re going to raise much more than last year,” SAE co-philanthropy chair Adam Angelino (junior) said. “Our realistic goal is $3,000, but I feel like that’s really easy.”

Angelino said that the haunted house will look different to Occidental students who attended in previous years. Some SAE brothers who graduated last year left with their props and costumes, so this year’s members filled the gaps with new props.

“There’s much more room for revision and renewal in the haunted house,” he said.

Programming Board manager Joe Kling (senior) said that the street festival will also serve as a pre-show event for the fall concert.

“I think it will enhance the fall concert,” Kling said. “It will be a good pre-show event, since we were not able to do a pre-show event like we did for SpringFest.”

With the combined effort of Programming Board, SAE and other Greek organizations, Ortmayer thinks this year’s Halloween event will be unprecedented.

“This year will lay the foundation for doing it bigger so next year we can just run away with it,” Ortmayer said.