Annual event draws city together in support of community arts and science programs.
It’s back! For the sixth year in a row, Fredericton’s Haunted Tour returns Halloween week to the Charlotte Street Arts Centre and Science East. The event, sponsored and delivered by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists New Brunswick, has become an annual fall tradition for many Fredericton area families.
“I’ve been involved since the beginning,” said Bill Lamey, co-chair of this year’s organizing committee for APEGNB. “Our role in the tour is to provide the tour itself. Multiple engineering companies, government engineering departments, related groups and individual members come together to build the tour or sponsor the event. We had our first tour in 2008 and it’s been growing ever since.”
The Haunted Tour, which transforms its two locations into creepy, spine-chilling public destinations, was initially founded as a fundraising event in support of the CSAC’s ArtReach program, an initiative that helps make art accessible for a wide range of groups within the city.
“The ArtReach program has been going since about 2005,” said WhiteFeather, a long-time city artist and spokesperson for the CSAC, “and it began as a small initiative, mainly with the Boys and Girls Club in Fredericton. It’s expanded every year with the outreach now extending to about a dozen non-profits in the city who work with youth-at-risk, women and children rebuilding their lives after domestic violence, the elderly, enrichment programs like George Street Middle School’s SPARK program, various First Nations communities in the province, and the Fredericton Native Friendship Centre. It’s a huge win-win situation, where artists are paid fairly to share their knowledge and ArtReach participants gain not only creative skills but learn new venues for personal, emotional expression and learn about working together as a community. It’s a hugely successful initiative.”
The city’s support of this annual event could also be described as hugely successful. Attendance continues to grow each year as well as interest from volunteers and community groups wishing to get involved with the delivery of this four-day event.
“The event continues to improve every year, so much so that children’s tours were moved to Science East last year,” said WhiteFeather. “The move allowed for the addition of a second venue so that patrons wouldn’t have to wait so long in such huge line-ups, and also to extend the fundraising initiative to some other worthy non-profits working towards children’s education.”
The Science East Association was first formed in 1994 and became a permanent fixture in the city after signing a lease with the provincial government and moving into the former York County Jail on Brunswick Street. The location has helped the group strengthen their mandate to foster an interest and understanding of science among people of all ages with a number of permanent, interactive displays and by providing a home base for their own outreach initiatives. Its close proximity to the CSAC made it the perfect fit for a second stop on the haunted tour.
“APEGNB asked us to take it over for a number of reasons,” said Angela Chang, communications director for Science East. “It separates the low-scare part from the high and medium scare, and gives all three sections much more room to work with. Also, the APEGNB felt Science East’s commitment to fun, hands-on science education, not to mention the fact that we’re in a very old and spooky jail, would really make an exciting and interesting low-scare tour for little ones.”
The secrecy surrounding each new edition of the Haunted Tour is a big part of the fun for both organizers and patrons. New additions and increasing levels of creepiness help make each new edition, a fresh and exciting experience for everyone involved.
“I’m sworn to secrecy on our Halloween tour details,” said Chang. “I can tell you we’ve got some very cool things in store that you won’t see anywhere else in Fredericton this Halloween. We really focus on illusion and mystery based on science, and kids will be learning on this tour, though they’ll be having so much fun they may not realize it.”
Funds raised by Science East’s low scare tour will support the Exploratory Centre for Early Learning, a free, public access program that offers hands-on activities and exhibits for children five and under to give them an early positive exposure to science concepts.
Details for this year’s tour:
Charlotte Street Arts Centre (medium – high scare) 732 Charlotte Street – October 29-30 (6-9pm), October 31 (5-10pm) and November 1 (5-9pm). Admission is $10/person cash at the door. Please note the minimum age limit of 9 years old.
Science East (low-scare) 668 Brunswick Street – October 29 (12-5pm), October 31 (12-7pm) and November 1 (12-5pm). Admission is $8 at the door for children ages 3 and older, and accompanying adults get in for free. All children must be accompanied by an adult.