Just over 500 people live in the Lenoir County town of Pink Hill, an ordinarily peaceful town 11 months out of the year.
But every October, the old Pink Hill School transforms into something just a little bit different, and visitors from across the East enroll for a night at “Scare U,” a haunted house run by the Pink Hill Volunteer Fire Department.
“We all need a chance to get out and scream and get it off our chests,” said Debra Padgett, a volunteer. “Especially after Florence, we all need a chance to scream a little bit.”
Everyone who works at the haunted house is a volunteer, and Pink Hill volunteer firefighter Phillip Swinson said they have one goal in mind: “Scaring everybody.”
“Oh, we love it,” said Padgett. “It’s a chance for all of us adults to act like kids and get away with it.”
People from all over come to Pink Hill and pay the $10 “tuition” to enter Scare U.
The volunteers aren’t really sure where all the folks are coming from; they’ve too busy scaring them, which starts the minute visitors walk through the door.
“When we first come in, we have snakes on the floor,” said Padgett.
They’re not real snakes, at least, I think they’re not real snakes.
If you make it past the virtual serpents, you’ll find a haunted house filled with things you won’t see anywhere else.
“A lot of the stuff is self-created,” said Swinson. “Somebody come up with the idea, and a bunch of us brains got together, and we figured it out and made it work.”
“We have some very creative people in our fire department,” said Padgett. “Everybody brings what they have to the table.”
All the money raised goes right back to help fund the Pink Hill Volunteer Fire Department.
“This is great fun for the fire department,” said Swinson. “Everybody pours their heart and soul into it, get their scare on once a year. Get to see a lot of different scared faces.”
“We give it all we got to give them their money’s worth and give them some scares and screams,” said Padgett.
“Come on out if you dare,” said Swinson. “We’ll scare you anyway. We’ll change it up for you. We’ll do whatever we need to do to make you scared.”
Scare U is open October 19 & 20, 26 & 27, 29-31 starting at 8 p.m.
For more information, see their Facebook page.