Thursday, October 20, 2011

Candlelighters Halloween Fundraiser in Fremont, California

photos by Dianne Smith

Halloween Fundraiser
The Fremont halloween Ghost House is off to a great start in 2011, earning a record $8,900 on opening night. In 2010 the first day brought in $6,700, according to board member Cathy Leslie, still an excellent amount for a halloween fundraiser. Candlelighters haunted house is an icon in Fremont, drawing people from all over San Francisco Bay and beyond for sixteen days every fall, from October 15-30. One woman said she drove from Lodi just to eat one of their famous caramel apples.

D & G Produce on Fremont Boulevard provide 8,000 fresh Granny Smith's and volunteers hand dip them on site in caramel, peanuts and candy. Other treats are lollipops, hot dogs, chili, nachos, sodas, hot chocolate and hot cider. Festive game booths offer a pumpkin walk, ring toss, duck pond, wheel of fortune and bean bag toss. There are also booths for photos, face painting and a general store selling small halloween trinkets.

Haunted House Registration Desk

Fremont Haunted House Fundraiser

The theme for 2011 is a haunted hotel and every corner of the Carriage House looks the part. Cobwebs hang from ceilings and caskets reveal their ghoulish contents. A creepy lobby with a registration desk greets visitors and points them toward a dark hallway. Guest rooms along the walls have numbers and the doors are locked, so visitors proceed through a maze of other rooms, including a parlor scene with a piano and harp played by skeletons. 

The hotel kitchen apparently serves gruesome fare, with brains sizzling in a frying pan and purple smoke ascending from a saucepan. Dirty dishes and a cookbook entitled Spells, Potions and Creepy Concoctions line the shelves. Spice jars are fillet of snake, spider juice and wool of bat. A human torso minus its skin, bat and a vulture all hang from hooks like meat in a packing plant. Moving on from the unappetizing scene is the hotel's clinic, with Dr. Jake taking care of a bedridden patient with rats crawling over him.
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Candlelighters Volunteers

Many high schoolers serve at the Ghost House to meet their 40-hour community service requirement. However, there are a number of areas requiring adult workers, including positions as board members, which the organization is actively seeking. Currently nine board members oversee the non-profit, with dozens of other volunteers serving as heads of committees, chairs of the stores, refreshments or rooms in the Ghost House.  

Halloween Carnival
An executive member serves about fifty hours per year, including setting up the carnival during any of the five Saturdays prior to opening day. Associate and new members volunteer twenty hours. Candlelighters kicks off each season with a big bash the eve before opening night and also gets together every three months at a luncheon. Compared to other fundraisers, the work is fun, taking only a few hours out of people's schedules during eight weeks in the fall, but rewards lasting all year. The Ghost House raises about $80,000 every October and the money is doled out to worthy charities throughout the other eleven months, with a particular focus on ones dedicated to education. Past recipients include the YMCA, Pregnancy Choices Clinic of Union City, and several schools, libraries and civic entities. Any non-profit meeting their criteria may apply for funds every other year.

The Ghost House is located at The Chadbourne Carriage House on Fremont Boulevard at the Fremont Hub (between Mowry Avenue and Walnut Avenue). Admission is $3.00 for the haunted house and tickets to play games cost only a quarter. For general information, visitors can call 510-796-0595 or view their website. Rumor has it that the historic Chadbourne Carriage House is actually haunted. Ghosts are certainly prevalent every October, so perhaps the rumor is true.

Candlelighters Ghost House 2011

Read more: Fundraiser Ideas for Halloween

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