VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Volunteers, primarily from the 30th Security Forces Squadron, recently concluded their third annual Haunted Asylum, here, Oct. 31.
Originally a local attraction, Tech. Sgt. Thomas Martin, 30th SFS flight sergeant, has built a sterling reputation for the haunted house -- which was voted one of the best Halloween attractions on the entire Central Coast by users on the websites Yelp and TripAdvisor.
“This was our third annual Haunted Asylum,” said Martin. “I’ve mainly been the one to put this thing together since its start. We’ve expanded it this year, making it 14 rooms now instead of 11 the year before. People who come through are usually pretty terrified. We’ve had individuals who’ve been so scared they’ve accidentally urinated themselves.”
For Martin, enthusiastic volunteers and an old, naturally macabre schoolhouse, which is now only used for storage, prove to be the perfect recipe for a frighteningly memorable experience.
“My volunteers are awesome and they are all really excited to come out,” said Martin. “For a lot of them, it’s on their day-off and they really help make all this happen. I also think the school really makes this a great haunted house. The entire layout, with the courtyards and overgrown vegetation just makes a creepy environment.”
For some patrons, the asylum theme proved to be of particular interest and the experience didn’t disappoint.
“I drive by here to and from work every day and I’ve been wanting to come for the last few years,” said Sandy Rives. “I really wanted to check it out because of the asylum theme, because I work in mental health. I was pleased because I thought it could stigmatize mental health, but it didn’t. It was just creepy and I appreciated that.”
In addition to providing a unique Halloween experience to the public, the event also provided a fun way for members of Team V to volunteer.
“I’ve always wanted to put on a haunted house, and after the first year we did it all the people who came out, told us how great it was and that really motivated me to try and make it even better every year,” said Martin. “I really appreciate the volunteers coming out, and they know what they’re doing is for a good cause. The actors this year were really spot-on. I think a lot of them could act on the outside if they really wanted to.”
As the Haunted Asylum technically sits on Vandenberg property, but outside the installation’s gates, it’s able to accommodate customers from all over -- and in turn has the potential to bolster community relations.
“It was definitely worth coming,” said Tamara Pickarts. “I think it’s awesome that Airmen from the base come out and volunteer to put something like this on in their free time. I think stuff like this is really great because sometimes there can be a stigma between the military and civilians and this brings us all together.”