Keystone sets cap at 700, gets ready to scare

By Jeff Smith

Caged — A Rapid City teen in a “bloody” mask and straightjacket in the basement of the Keystone Museum for the Haunting of Keystone on Oct. 14, 2017. Teens and children alike volunteer to act to scare people throughout the Haunting of Keystone event.

The 9th Annual Haunting of Keystone starts this weekend in Keystone. It’s full of wonderful scares in four locations.

The attractions are at Big Thunder Gold Mine, Rushmore Cave and the Keystone Historical Museum. The Haunting includes Contagion in the Cave, Wicked Little Miners, Haunted Forest and School from Hell.

Casey McNulty, one of the organizers of the event, said it usually takes about 2-3 weeks to get every attraction completed.

One armband gets people into all of the different attractions. A single attraction is $10.

The cost for all four attractions is $30.

The biggest change this year is that there will be a set cap each night. All attractions will have a 700-person cap per night.

The purchased armband will be good for all eight nights.

McNulty recommends coming back because a person won’t be able to go to all of the attractions in one night.

“Last year we did have issues with the number of people who came to our attractions and inadequate parking,” McNulty said.

The whole town was full for the events last year and there was no parking. Worse for some might be that they would stand in line and not be able to get into an attraction before it closed. 

“That is all that we can run through. We were at 750 per night last year and we couldn’t get everybody through, “McNulty said.

“I think this is a fair number.”

Planning for the event began in the middle of August. Since then they have been getting together for the development of the event.

The event is the biggest one for Keystone, as Holy Terror Days is at a time where it’s hard to find volunteers.

McNulty said things are being changed slightly this year but they are trying to spend less money on the event so more money goes back into the community.

The event requires many volunteers to help. There are quite a few students and youngsters that help at the event.

“They are very helpful. They do get to be troublesome sometimes but are much more helpful than not,” McNulty said.

The organizers ask that an adult comes with each child. It’s nice to have someone older to be there for safety reasons.

A shuttle will also be taking the participants to Rushmore Cave. Anyone with an armband can take the shuttle.

Rush Mountain Adventure Park has been very active with the whole planning process for the Haunting from start to finish.

“We appreciate them very much,” McNulty said.

When the haunting was started in 2009, making $2,800, no one thought that it would soon be the biggest fundraiser in Keystone within eight years. In 2017 the haunt raised $80,000 to help the community.

There are some other expenses to take care of with the event too so not everything goes back into the community. It was closer to $50,000 that was put into the community last year. $20,000 was used for start-up costs.

There is no specific goal that they want to reach this year.

“But we are hoping for good weather,” McNulty said.

The security guard service Black Hills Patrol was hired this year to take care of any issues during the event. This is an added expense that will cut into the profits but will add more security to the event. 

Sandi McLain, Keystone business owner, stated that they hired three times the amount of people that they had last year for security. The budget went from $487 to $3,000 this year. 

Last year there were five vehicle-related incidents reported.

Security people will be able to chase drivers down if they leave the scene without notifying someone about an accident this year.

McLain said it was tough for law enforcement in town to handle parking and to be there for the incidents that occurred.

There will be two security guards stationed at each attraction except at Rush Mountain Adventure Park where they hired a separate security guard service.

The Haunting takes, on average, 60 dedicated volunteers a night to pull off.  Advertising done this year has helped with the recruitment of volunteers. McLain said that since they aren’t in the immediate community it’s hard to say if they are going to show up.

“It’s so important to find people that can help us,” MccLain said.

The Haunting of Keystone fills the hotels and brings people to the community.

“We were thrilled with the attendance last year. It was beyond what any of us expected,” McNulty said.

Last year the event broke a record and in the last few years numbers of those attending keeps going higher and higher. McNulty said they are looking forward to seeing the money go back into the community even though it’s a lot of volunteer time for everyone involved.

There is a committee that makes the decision of how the money is spent. It is the Holy Terror Days Association and anyone can join. There is a yearly fee of $5 to be a part of  the Holy Terror Days Association.

The Haunting of Keystone will be held Oct. 12-13, 21-23, 26-28. On Friday and Saturday the attractions will be open 7-11 p.m. On Sunday they are open 7-9 p.m.