With Halloween inching closer, a church in Hyde Park is reinventing its annual Haunted House event into a socially distanced in-person activity this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5200 S. University Ave., is hosting a drive-in haunted house event for Halloween from October 15-17. 

“We are just trying to figure out a way to have a fun activity for kids. This is our fourth year — for the last three years we've done the haunted house in our church building and we always get hundreds of people that come out to it. So it's been popular," said Devin Pope, member and volunteer for events at the church. 

This year, the three-night event will take place in the two parking lots on church’s premises from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is free for families with at least one child under the age of 16.

In order to attend the drive-in haunted house, families must fill out a mandatory Google form to register for a 15 minute slot for one of the three nights. Then, during their registered time slot, families can pull up in their assigned parking spots to attend a ten-minute show organized by the church volunteers.

“They will stay in their car the entire time. It will be against the rules for anyone to get out of their cars, but we are going to have a bunch of workers that will be in masks and everything. They will walk up and down between the cars...(doing) kind of fun scary things that will try to make the kids excited and scared,” Pope said.

The event is advertised as kid-friendly, so even though it will be scary, there will be no gore or adult themes, he added. There will be about 15 cars allowed in for each ten-minute show, and a radio station to tune in for music.

Pope anticipates that over a thousand people are likely to attend the drive-in haunted house event, particularly since parents and families have been keenly looking for safe in-person activities for their children during the pandemic. The last two in-person events organized by the church earlier this year, the Animal Show and Valentine Carnival, both free and child-friendly, were widely-attended.

Although the church organized a remote Easter event and currently holds free Sunday School activities for children, the drive-in haunted house will be their first in-person event since the pandemic hit. To remedy concerns surrounding overwhelming attendance traffic jam for Halloween, Pope said that people will have to sign up in advance.

To sign up, visit bit.ly/HPHauntedHouse.  

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