Mercyhurst celebrates Halloween with traditions, food and haunts

Bella Lee, Staff writer

It’s October, which means that Halloween is finally around the corner. We may all be a bit too old to go trick-or-treating ourselves, but all the decorations, costumes and candy never cease to amaze us.

Mercyhurst is no stranger to these festivities. Whenever Halloween rolls around, Mercyhurst students eagerly await the arrival of themed meals and treats at the dining halls, but most importantly, the main attraction is Haunted Hurst.

This ghost tour takes place within Old Main and Egan and is a hit among students. Ambassadors tell creepy stories of Mercyhurst’s past and students provide jump scares galore.

However, with the coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, things have had to be changed around to make sure Mercyhurst can still celebrate as safely as possible.

As always, Parkhurst has a range of themed meals and activities coming up for students.

“Both the 501 Grille and Grotto Commons will have their Halloween meals on Friday Oct. 30,” said Katie Boyd, general manager of Parkhurst. “The 501 Grille will be at lunch (11 a.m.- 2 p.m.), and the Grotto will be at dinner (4:30 p.m.- 10 p.m.). You can expect a delicious and spooky menu, and lots of costumes and treats.”

It’s not just the dining halls that are serving up spooky surprises, however.

“The Roost is working alongside the Haunted Hurst Team on Halloween,” said Lori Blakeslee, retail manager of Parkhurst. “We will be giving out free fish and chips to the first 100 guests. We are providing the Haunted Hurst guests with a free mocktail for participating in the tour, named Luke’s Legacy. We will also be playing Halloween movies all day.”

The aforementioned “fish and chips” are goldfish crackers and potato chips, and the other Parkhurst facilities will also have great treats awaiting students. The Frankenfrap, a green tea frap with peppermint and mocha, has been available at the Anchor Express all October and there are homemade specialty caramel apples available at the Laker Inn, Anchor Express and Coffee Bar.

But, of course, who could forget about Haunted Hurst? This year tons of changes have been made by MSG and MAC/SAC to ensure maximum fun while still being safe.

“There are a few elements of the upcoming Haunted Hurst that will look different this year than previous ones,” said Braeden Barnett, senior English major and SAC chair. “First of all, the route has changed and been expanded, allowing us to include time for some of our classic ghost stories that we’ve had to leave out before.

We have also partnered with Andrew Ferguson, Conferences and Events technical director, to incorporate theatrical special effects into our tour. He is even transforming the Performing Arts Center into the perfect spooky start of our tour. We are also offering a free mocktail from the Roost inspired by the Halloween scene in the Student Union to all students after their tours.”

Tours will also look different from previous years.

“As always, our tours will be led by several of our student Ambassadors and will be leaving every 10 minutes,” said Barnett. “We are limiting group sizes to no more than 6 and regulating social distancing to remain COVID-compliant. Our Ambassadors will also have portable microphones to project their voices to ensure all will be able to hear them while remaining socially distant.”

This year’s Haunted Hurst included a unique twist on Oct. 22 where alumni were able to take a Haunted Hurst tour of their own, including their own ghost stories.

Because alumni can not come back to the Hurst in person this year, the event was live-streamed and fully virtual.

“We actually started doing an in-person haunted tour last year and because it was so popular, we decided to hold it virtually too,” said Lindsay Frank, director of Alumni Engagement. “Doing the event virtually was maybe not as spooky as walking the halls, but it is really great because we have been able to reach alumni who live outside of the Erie area. Alumni who are not able to get back to campus as frequently (probably because of distance) are really enjoying our virtual events.”

MSG and MAC/SAC also have an event planned for the day before Haunted Hurst to get students excited.

“On Oct. 30 we will be hosting a fall themed night,” said Barnett. “Students will be able to pick and paint a mini pumpkin, take photos at our Fall-themed photo booth, play games for prizes and enjoy Parkhurst-catered fall items. While not specifically ‘Halloween’ the event will be a fun October get-together and will pair well with Haunted Hurst the next night.”

So whether you’re excited for the fall festivities or just want the food, this week is sure to be a creepy and kooky one!

Tour guides for the alumni Haunted Hurst event included Mercyhurst staff members Mitchell Marsh (left), Ryan Palm, Meaghan Hubert and Lindsay Frank. (Contributed photo)
Lindsay Frank tells ghost stories on the steps of Egan Hall while livestreaming the event to alum via Zoom. (Contributed photo)

Even better, Haunted Hurst just so happens to fall on Halloween night, so get ready for some maximum scares and haunts!