story | Dion, Contributing Reporter
photo | Sohaib Nashit, Official Photographer for Halloween
“I WANT MY DOLLIE!” shrieked one of the scare actors. She had stitches across her face, and her rows of hideous teeth were stretched into a fearsome grin. “Time is running out…” the other scare actor sang as my group and I frantically scoured the dark, balloon-filled room for the doll. This was part of the Yale-NUS Haunted House, named “Haunted Circus Carnival”. For me, it concluded a long and enjoyable night of Halloween celebrations.
On Nov. 3, 2017, the entire Yale-NUS College campus came alive as the annual Halloween celebrations started. That Friday night in the Saga Dining Hall, I scooped up “eyeballs in slime”, while a skull-masked SATS personnel prowled about, looking for unsuspecting students to scare. Downstairs, in the Saga Courtyard, the film Coraline was screened while popcorn, candy floss, and an array of unique food items from the Yale-NUS Baking Club were served. Beside the Elm Buttery, a photo booth was erected, complete with props. A crowd of people waited eagerly outside the Practice Rooms for their turn to be terrorized in the Haunted House. Meanwhile, Yale-NUS’s first ever Trick or Treat was ongoing in the Rectors’ suites.
Impressed with the scope of the Halloween celebrations, I went to speak to some of the people who worked behind the scenes to bring about this year’s Halloween event.
Carnival-Themed Haunted House
First, I spoke to one of the scare actors, Adria Lim ’20, who played a creepy doll. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of a Haunted House,” said Lim. “So when there was a call for scare actors on Facebook about two and a half weeks before the event, I took it up”. When asked about the Haunted House event, Lim said, “Make-up was great, response was great, welfare was great—it was a great event!” Many other volunteers, such as make-up artists Raya Lyubenova ’21 and Cassandra Woo ’21, helped make the event a success.
Lim said that she felt this year’s Haunted House was an improvement over last year’s because of the strong overall theme and better welfare for scare actors. “I have to scream a lot, and my throat gets really hoarse. They will sometimes pause the Haunted House to check on us and bring us water”, said Lim. However, she also said that some students hurled the doll at her, while other scare actors were even shoved. Terrifying as the scare actors were, they were often terrified by the students too.
The Student Government initiated the Haunted House, drafted its storyline, and recruited scare actors. Yet, it was RC3 which refined and implemented Student Government’s proposals to bring the Haunted House to completion. Thus, I interviewed Khwa Zhong Xuan ’20, Co-President of RC3, on RC3’s involvement in Haunted House preparations.
“[Student Government] was a little short on manpower, and RC3 had always wanted to organise a Halloween event anyway, so it was a good opportunity for collaboration,” said Khwa. “We could only start setting up on Thursday evening, so we stayed until [about] 2 am on Thursday to do what we could do,” he said. “To be honest, we only finished setup right when the event was supposed to start.”
Nevertheless, Khwa said that he felt the execution went really well and they had lots of good feedback. Indeed, the Yale-NUS Haunted House had—to my surprise and exasperation—a waiting time of about an hour, and had served close to 200 students by the end of the event.
Trick or Treat, Suite or Sweet
This year’s Halloween celebrations introduced Yale-NUS’s first Trick or Treat event, officially named “Trick or Treat, Suite or Sweet”. It was carried out in the Elm, Cendana and Saga Rectors’ suites and Vice-Rector Paul Gallagher’s suite. The College Councils assisted in the suite decorations. I approached Cendana Rector and Associate Professor (Science) Neil Clarke to ask about his experience with the Trick or Treat.
“I was happy with the event; my three kids grew up doing trick or treating,” said Mr. Clarke. “Lots of people were in costume. One student was costumed as a character from 101 Dalmatians and pretended to skin my dog.” Mr. Clarke was himself costumed as a 1970s disco king, donning a wig with bell-bottomed pants, a satin shirt, and a peace medallion.
Halloween-themed cookies, caramel apples, oreo pops and s’more dips (be careful of how you pronounce “s’more dips”) lined the dining tables of the Rectors’ suites. They were the labor of love of the Yale-NUS Baking Club, officially named “Let Them Eat Cake”. Agatha Tan ’20, President of Yale-NUS Baking Club, said that the club took two days to bake the food items and that a test bake was conducted the week before. The Yale-NUS Baking Club even used club funding, as opposed to event funding, to pay for some of the ingredients.
“I didn’t eat any of the caramel apples”, said Mr. Clarke. “They ran out very quickly”.
Student Government Involvement
Finally, I spoke to Annabelle Ho ’21, Director of Events, who with advice from Brandon Lee ’20, President of Student Government and assistance from the rest of Student Government, coordinated some of the Halloween events. Ho liaised with RC3 and the Yale-NUS Baking Club. She assisted in setting up the photo booth and movie screening, and approached the various Rectors and Vice-Rectors to gauge their interest in the Trick or Treat.
Apart from the Student Government, many other student organizations and individuals put in a great deal of effort into Yale-NUS’s Halloween celebrations. A big thank-you is in order to these students, to SATS for making our Halloween dinner terrifyingly good, and to the Dean of Students’ Office for funding the events. It was a great horror-filled halloween—one that (temporarily) masked the horror of my PPT essay due the very next day.