Opinion: The clowns aren’t the only scary thing at the Halloween Haunt


Emma O'Connor

The Halloween Haunt had many scary attractions throughout the park, but nothing was more terrifying than the shooter scare.

I was confused as I saw a mob of people barreling towards us in the darkness. My friend grabbed my hand, and we bolted with the crowd. She told me she heard someone yelling about a shooter. As we sprinted, we saw people knock over barricades and get crushed under the horde. People panicked as they were separated from their friends and family. When we reached the entrance of the attraction, it was deserted. Only five minutes ago, hundreds of people were lined up outside, eagerly waiting to enter. Once we escaped the park, it was chaos. People were running across the streets, disregarding all rules of the road. Cars were stopped in the middle of intersections, and people were in tears frantically calling friends that were still stuck inside. 

There’s something fundamentally wrong with the fact that all it took for this to occur was one person to yell “shooter.”

Halloween Haunt, a seasonal attraction at Great America and a popular place for teens to hang out, was overtaken by panic after someone mistook a strong-arm robbery as a shooting on the night of Saturday, Oct. 26. 

Jessica Agosti, a senior who went to the Halloween Haunt the night of the incident, said, “It was a big learning experience for me because I’d never been through something that horrifying before. Now I know to always try to stay calm and think of the best possible steps to find safety, and always know where the escape routes are just in case something like this happens again.”

More teens are having life-altering experiences because our broken society allows loose gun laws, despite a large number of mass shootings across America over the past decade. Since many of these shootings have targeted schools, there’s no wonder why teens don’t feel safe in public spaces. 

The sad truth is, no one in that park doubted for a second that there was a gun once they heard “shooter.” Gun violence is no longer a rare occurrence, and it’s starting to show. 

Alisilani Alusa, a senior who attended the Haunt with her friends, said, “With all of the active school shootings, people have been much more worried over gun violence. So, when someone yelled ‘gun,’ it caused mass pandemonium without any actual eyewitnesses to the gun.”

When something like this happens, it doesn’t just affect the people that were there. 

Rhiannon Windler, a freshman, said, “When I stepped out of the [Homecoming] dance, I saw a few people crying outside because they were worried about their friends that were at the Haunt.”

The fear and anxiety over the next attack are heightening, due to the sheer frequency of these attacks. The fact that there have been more mass shootings than days this year is unacceptable. Oct. 30 is the 303rd day of the year, and there have already been 349 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Yet, some are still opposed to strengthening our gun laws. 

We must do something to reduce the horror permeating our society. We cannot constantly live on the edge, afraid of the next shooting, fearful that we won’t see our friends and family again.

“I don’t care whether there was a gun or not. I still ran like someone was chasing me with one. I’ve never run for my life like that before, and I hope never to do it again,” Alusa said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email