This news summary is by Mike Hibbard, Reporter of Finger Lakes Times, Geneva, NY.
GENEVA — Bill Greco, (Chairman of St. Francis-St. Stephen’s Family Fun Festival ), admits the organizers of the St. Francis-St. Stephen’s Old Time Family Fun Festival took a chance by having a haunted maze at this year’s event. In the end, it was money well spent. “We took a big leap of faith, because it was a lot of money, but we gained our money back the first day,” Greco said Saturday afternoon on the second day of the festival. “Today was icing on the cake.” Greco estimated that about 700 people went through the maze Friday on the first day of the two-day event. He hoped for about the same number Saturday.
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Greco said with the exception of some teary-eyed tots, everyone navigating the maze was satisfied. “Yesterday was just over the top,” he said. “We didn’t know what to expect, but it was just non-stop. From the minute we opened right until 10 o’clock, it was full.” A trip through the maze, dubbed “Nightmare on Elmwood Avenue,” cost $5 for a pre-sale ticket or $7 at the gate.
“The part that made me the happiest was everybody loved it, whether it was small children, middle-aged people or the older folks,” Greco added. “Whenever people spend that kind of money for something like this, if it wasn’t good they would let us know. I didn’t have one person come up to me and say anything other than how fantastic it was.”
Festival organizers contracted with a Connecticut company, Chimera Enterprise, LLC, to set up the maze. The job took about nine hours. “We specialize in everything Halloween,” said the company owner, Angelus Perez, who calls himself “Mr. Halloween” and has been setting up haunts for nearly 30 years. “People call us when they want to do something like this. If they want a haunted experience, they get it.”
A cast of actors, primarily DeSales High School students, were recruited and trained by Chimera staffers. “They were extremely professional and knew exactly what we wanted,” Greco said of Chimera, noting that some Geneva High students also played some roles. “The folks from Chimera sat down and trained all these kids, and they caught on right away. We told them ‘if you don’t like the Halloween feeling and you don’t like scaring people, it’s not going to work out,’ but these kids got right into it.”
In addition to the haunted maze, the festival, now in its 10th year, featured traditional staples like games, food and music. Agonal Rhythm and DILF headlined the bands.
The event is a major fundraiser for the pre-K-through-eighth-grade Catholic elementary school. It annually raises between $20,000 to $25,000, but Greco figured the maze would boost the total to $30,000 or more.