Zuckerberg Island echoed with the screams of the innocent on Thursday night.
Over 400 Castlegar residents young and old lined up in the pouring rain for Spooks on Zukes. Stanley Humphries Secondary School’s (SHSS) grad class organized the event, taking participants on a chilling tour of the island and collecting donations not only for their grad, but for the Castlegar Community Harvest Food Bank.
“This is a community event, so we actually give a portion of our money to the food bank. Some of our money will go toward our grad event, but the rest of it will be donated,” said Jackie Letkeman, or Miss Jackie, a teacher at SHSS.
In exchange for a loonie, toonie or non-perishable item, participants were led over the suspension bridge to where the undead awaited them on the island. They were then taken up to the haunted graveyard and over to the chapel house where more horrors awaited them. Finally they were led across the land bridge to safety.
SHSS grad students did the prep work for the event — including decorating the island and in some cases, creating some ghoulish makeup looks for the 15 actors. “A few of our students are fine arts students, but also that’s their passion, so we had our library set up as our studio this afternoon and they did all their own makeup,” said Letkeman.
A dozen students led the tour and others manned the entrance, and sold hot chocolate, hot dogs, baked goods and raffle tickets to those waiting in line — and there were a lot of people in line. Shortly after 8 p.m. organizers had to start turning people away, as there were already too many people waiting to cross the bridge and begin the tour. Letkeman estimated that approximately 400-500 people had come through the front gate at that point.
Many of the students who worked to make the evening a success remember attending Spooks on Zukes when they were children.
“Some of these kids actually remember going through as kids — like as two, three, four year olds — and being in Spooks and getting so scared,” said Letkeman. “So it’s really cool that they get to do that now as 17 and 18 year olds.”
The event was discontinued several years ago, but was started up again last year by students at SHSS. Spooks on Zukes is done with the permission of the City of Castlegar and the Castlegar & District Heritage Society. Firefighters from the Tarry’s and Castlegar fire departments were also on hand for the event, as were members of the Castlegar RCMP.
Students were out at Zuckerberg again on Friday morning cleaning up after the event, and Deb McIntosh, manager of the Heritage Society, said, “The Heritage Society is absolutely thrilled with the respect shown.”