Honorable haunting

Photograph by Norma Loya Sophomore Owen Hansen removes the instestines of junior Claudia Gonzalez at the Phi Kappa Tau haunted house on Friday night.
Photograph by Norma Loya
Sophomore Owen Hansen removes the intestines of junior Claudia Gonzalez at the Phi Kappa Tau haunted house on Friday night.

A fraternity and the theater department are coming together for possibly the creepiest and craftiest haunted house in Chico.

Phi Kappa Tau is turning its chapter house at 611 W. Fifth St.  into a haunted house that is open to anyone in the community more than 16 years old. The house, which opened Oct. 18, will be open Friday and Saturday and Oct. 29-30 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Tickets are $7 at the door and proceeds will go to the SeriousFun Children’s Network, a non-profit organization that provides summer programs to disabled children.

Xander Ritchey, a senior accounting major and theater minor, came up with the idea. Ritchey is the alumni public relations officer for the fraternity.

The idea for the haunted house was inspired by a real mortician, Thomas Bicknell, who moved into the house with his family in 1897.  Bicknell prepared the bodies in the basement and the ceremonies were held upstairs.

But the fraternity brothers are embellishing the story for a few scares.

“Maybe Thomas Bicknell killed his victims to operate on and prepare for ceremonies,” Ritchey said.

Ritchey is expecting more than 100 guests each night and 1,000 total visitors. The fraternity has 22 active members working on the haunted house with a $3,200 budget and props donated by the community.

Jesse Erven, a sophomore business major at Butte College, has worked on marketing for the event, reaching out to TV and radio stations.

“I’m excited to see it come to fruition,” Erven said.

A few of the fraternity brothers have worked on haunted houses before, so they have good experience as a group, he said.

Ritchey was excited that members of the theater department would be actors and designers for the event.

“There’s a lot of design involved,” Ritchey said.

The event is a festive way to connect Chico to its past, said Zachary McDonough, a senior health service administration major and fraternity president. The house will be alcohol-free and drug-free, allowing people to do something besides drinking around Halloween.

“We want to give people an alternative,” McDonough said.

Phi Kappa Tau has also partnered with Kohl’s “Associates in Action” program, which offers services of their employees to nonprofit organizations.

The Kohl’s associates will help move the anticipated large crowds and are emergency backup, Ritchey said.

The haunted house is sponsored by Riley’s, Franky’s Pizzeria & Lounge, Barber Jon’s, Pita Pit, Woodstock’s Pizza, Trucker and Kohl’s.


Risa Johnson can be reached at [email protected]

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