n the corner of Strafford and Sunderland drive, a house stood in the dark. A sign saying “Haunted House” hung under a dim light beside the garage door. Seven junior students dashed to and from the garage and the house, trying to make sure everything was in place. At 8 p.m. sharp, junior Chetan Mokkapati whispered into his walkie talkie, beckoning his friends to get in position behind the garage door — the inside was covered with thick black sheets and pulsating lights. Children of all ages and their parents appeared in front of the house, waiting to be scared.
Every Halloween since seventh grade, Mokkapati and his tight-knit group of friends, consisting of Vishnu Palaniappan, Gaurav Datta, Akshay Gopalkrishnan, Andrew Fung, Pramodh Srihari and Sahas Munamala have set up a haunted house at his house.This idea formed when the boys started becoming bored every Halloween as they didn’t have something interesting to look forward to. According to Mokkapati, the event has gained huge popularity over the years.
“We all got bored of trick or treating,” Mokkapati said. “When we did trick or treat, there wasn’t anything really interesting. There were people giving out candy but we wanted something more.”
For the actual haunted house experience itself, the boys hide behind the curtains, wearing scary masks as the children walked around to scare them. Junior Andrew Fung, another member of the organizing team, recalled joining the team late but still enjoying the experience of organizing this event every Halloween.
“It’s really nice to see everyone, especially all the little kids, having a lot of fun,” Fung said. “It’s a good experience and that’s what makes Halloween special.”
One of the many children eagerly waiting in line to experience the haunted house was fourth grader Lasya Nukala. She explained that she enjoyed going to haunted houses as they make her halloween nights more memorable.
“In my old school, the teenagers did a haunted house too,” she said. “I never really got scared, so I’m really excited for this.”
Keeping a close watch on her, Nukala’s mom, Prassnitha Sampath, hovered over her daughter, as it was her first year bringing her kids to experience this haunted house. Inspired by what she considered a heartfelt idea, she thought of putting up a haunted house in her own garage next year.
As her children were next in line to enter the haunted house, Sampath stood to the side and started mingling with the other parents.
“I think it’s a great community to come around and socialize,” Sampath said. “This is an event where all of us can meet and talk and have fun.”
Looking back at this experience at the end of the day, and all the memories he helped to create within the children, Mokkapati hopes that the fun and excitement he gets will stay with him for times to come.
“I’m just a seventh of it,” Mokkapati said. “Each of us have an equal contribution to this and it’s really fun working with these people [who I have known] since elementary school, and we are juniors now. I look forward to this month in advance and we all look back and we are like ‘This is great. I wish we could have started this much sooner.”