View Full Version : Nice newspaper article about one of our actors day jobs / haunt actor contrast

10-17-2011, 06:06 AM
We were one of two haunts featured in the Sunday entertainment section of the newspaper.

Congrats to Jacqui for her appearance in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Sunday entertainment feature story about day jobs of actors!!! http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20111016/FEAT/310169995

Published: October 16, 2011 3:00 a.m.
Not scary up close

Seasonal haunters lead real lives

Steve Penhollow | The Journal Gazette

By day, Yeater’s a registered nurse who cares for residents at the Heritage of Huntington nursing home. “I am an entertainer there, too,” she says.

People who love to be scared at this time of year rarely get a behind-the-scenes look at area haunted attractions.
If they did, they might find that freelance ghouls can be some of the nicest people in the world.
Here are profiles of two of the good eggs who like to periodically pretend to be black sheep.

Jacqui Yeater
For nine years, Jacqui Yeater has spent her October nights (and assorted other evenings) hiding near a hallway and trying to frighten people.
She plays a number of characters, all of which are hard on one’s adrenal gland. And all are schizophrenic, she says.
“They’re happy one minute,” she says, “and then they’ll turn around to the same group and say, ‘I don’t like you anymore. Get out of my hallway!’ ”
If there’s a cute guy, Yeater says she’ll tell him, “I like you,” but she will make it clear to his girlfriend that she is not welcome.
Yeater, 22, is a longtime volunteer at the Haunted Hotel, a seasonal attraction in Huntington benefiting the Huntington Jaycees. She got involved while serving on her high school student council.
By day, she is a nurse at a retirement home, which might strike some people as another example of schizophrenia. But Yeater says she sees similarities between the two undertakings.
“Yes, I try to scare people, but if I can’t scare them, I will try to entertain them,” she says. “And when it comes to my nursing home, I am an entertainer there, too.”
Yeater says she tries to keep residents happy, which may be a harder task some days than scaring jaded teenagers.
“Whether it’s telling them a joke or taking them to an activity,” she says, “I try to keep the residents involved in something. I’ll put on a show for them if that’s what it takes.”
Going into work “mad or grumpy” is not an option for her, Yeater says.
“I put on a different face and be happy,” she says.
What insures Yeater’s return to that Haunted Hotel hallway year after year, she says, is that scaring people “is a great stress reliever” and the inhabitants of the haunted attraction have “kind of grown as a family.”
Last year, she says, she celebrated her October birthday at the hotel during business hours.
There aren’t many haunted attractions that can boast of having a medical professional on the premises, but Yeater says she is always ready to snap into action should any Haunted Hotel patrons faint or otherwise suffer ill effects of the unintended variety.
Yeater has always been “a person who wants to help people,” she says, and it looks like she’s accomplishing that goal in a number of interesting ways.

Paul Harrington

Paul Harrington and his horse, Smoke, transform into Skull Rider and Armegeddon, above, who visit the Haunted Jail in Columbia City.

On most Wednesdays and Sundays in October at the Haunted Jail in Columbia City, patrons will at some point be visited by the Skull Rider and his hellish stallion, Armageddon.
The jail’s owner, Paul Harrington, described the fearsome twosome in this way via email.
“(The Skull Rider) is vicious and violent and ushers in the end of the world, and his steed causes earthquakes with every step. He wields a bullwhip, and Armageddon ... is particularly malevolent. The Rider uses the bullwhip to open a portal between the netherworld and ours ...”
The Skull Rider is just one of the characters portrayed at the jail by Harrington.
When Harrington trains the people who work at the jail each autumn, he impresses on them the necessity of staying in character. But Harrington’s horse, Smoke, who portrays Armageddon, is not so easily impressed.
“When I get him out to the jail, he is a different horse,” Harrington says. “He seems vicious and he snorts. But if a kid walks up to him, he instantly comes out of character and lets the kid pet him. I am like, ‘You (expletive).’ But he is really the least scary guy on the planet. He is a sucker for attention like that.”
For a decade, Harrington, 42, has managed the jail.
It is open six weeks a year, and when it is not open, Harrington can often be found there refurbishing the interior from the basement up to insure that it is never the same haunt twice.
Harrington is an airbrush artist by profession and animal trainer by trade, and his philosophy toward training horses is the opposite of the Skull Rider’s.
Harrington says he is “a non-violent horse trainer” who uses “the horse’s own language to communicate in a peaceful way.”
“I really do believe in a non-violence credo,” he says. “Whippings with animals don’t work.”
Harrington learned about horses from his Louisiana grandfather
“He would stand at a gate with a bridle and a bit,” Harrington recalls, “whistle for the horse he wanted, and that horse would come and put his head in the bridle. I can remember that clearly. I still can’t do that.”
He said he got a rude awakening in his teens when he started to encounter horses that weren’t as well trained as his grandfather’s.
“The first time that you got the crap kicked out of you is when you realized that not everyone had those types of horses,” he says.
As dreadful a demeanor as Armageddon possesses, Smoke is so attuned to the relative fragility of children that he once held up a parade because a boy had run out into the street and was hugging the horse where no one else could see him, Harrington says.
It is Harrington’s belief that if any domesticated animal (or, for that matter, a child) behaves badly, it is always the fault of the trainer (or, for that matter, a parent).
“If someone comes to me and says, ‘My horse is insane; he’s arrogant; he has multiple personalities,’ I know I don’t want to train that horse because the owner is probably like that. An owner has to be careful what he tells the trainer.”
Harrington suffered an enormous setback in March when his house burnt down. Harrington lost many antique and priceless items, including a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass that his father had given him when he was 17.
But there was no loss of life. Harrington, his then-pregnant wife and his two daughters were out to dinner at the time.
And his two black labs escaped when one of the dogs renewed a bad, old habit of jumping up and hitting the garage door button.
Harrington says some people in Columbia City who have never been fond of the Haunted Jail suggested the fire was a case of karma (as in, what goes around comes around).
“(Some people said) ‘Well, you must have done a bad thing for that to happen to you,’ ” he says.
But Harrington defines karma as what happened after the fire, when friends and neighbors came to the aid of his family.
Harrington says what he feels now is gratefulness.
“A week after our fire, seven kids died in a fire in Pennsylvania,” he says. “How do you go to seven funerals and stay sane?”
No devotee of the Haunted Jail would have blamed Harrington for taking a year off, but he said he had to keep prepping the haunted attraction as a way of maintaining some normalcy in his life.
“When you’re sitting in the rubble, seeing 20-plus years of accumulation gone, it’s not normal,” he says. “How do you handle it? For me, anyway, the answer is that you go to work.
“My family saved me, and the jail has kept me sane,” he says.

Raycliff Manor
10-18-2011, 09:07 AM
That's awesome Brett! Congrats to Jacqui!:D


10-18-2011, 09:49 PM
Good to see some positive press for the industry. Glad to see a fellow Jaycees organization doing good also. The volunteer organization haunts especially make me proud, since the money goes back into the community and to help less fortunate people.

President of the Camden A.R. Jaycees
Justin Easttam