In our haunted houses, we don’t do masks. At least not generally. And why not? Because in most cases, masks aren’t scary. But also because costuming and make-up is an art form.

Doing well at costuming and make-up for a haunted house isn’t as easy as you might think. Often, we have 40 or more scare actors that show up for make-up and a tiny little team of people works to get them ready within 2 hours. Some of the scare actors who showed up last year were people we’d never met before, which means that we have to come up with a costume, a character, and the make-up for this person usually within less than 7 minutes.

It isn’t easy.

Last year, Jim Delahunty did a lot of the gore for us. He’s a bit of an expert on gore, a and within only a few minutes of doing make-up, I realized that the twistedness of his brain far surpassed mine. He kept a good pace during the costuming/make-up frenzy and at 6:00, when the haunts were populated and all the characters were out the door, I was so grateful to have had his help.

A variety of other volunteers including Dee Ann Schrotberger, stepped up to help with base coats and holding up prosthetics while the spirit gum dried. She helped keep the queue of volunteers moving along so that everyone would have a costume and a character by opening time.

Generally speaking, the volunteers who show up early get the best treatment because there’s always a few who show up really late. The ones who show up early, get the most attention while the ones who show up late get the least. The ones who show up in the middle, are often caught in the thick part of the bell curve where everyone is standing around waiting. They get their 5 to 7 minutes and then we move on to the next in line.

The moral of the story is to show up on time or early for costuming and make-up if you’re a prospective volunteer. We don’t do masks unless there’s a designated character who requires one, but to do make-up we have to have more than just a couple of minutes to do a good job. We’re always looking for responsible make-up artists and people who are creative and willing to learn. I both love and hate costuming and make-up because it’s such an incredible challenge, but there’s no way I’d ever go back to putting our scare actors in masks.