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Emma staffers fright and delight at St. Luke’s Haunted House

Halloween is always a festive time of year, but at Emma, it's also a time to give back. For the past seven years, a group of volunteer Emma staffers have staged the scariest (and most fun) haunted house in Nashville. The effort is called Code Boo, and it takes place at St. Luke's Community House, a local nonprofit.

We asked Priya, a Code Boo Co-Captain this year, for the inside scoop on this honorable (and terrifying) Emma tradition.

That's Priya.


What is St. Luke's Community House?

St. Luke's Community House is a social service agency that provides support to low-income families in West Nashville including child care, mobile meals, parenting classes, and other programs that holistically support families and the elderly daily and in times of crisis. The haunted house occurs in a preschool gymnasium that they enthusiastically let us take over a few days prior to their Halloween Festival.

Everyone in the neighborhood with children (and some without!) meet at St. Luke's to safely trick-or-treat, play games, socialize, and get spooked in the haunted house! The event lasts from 6:00pm to about 8:30pm, and every year about 200 kids and adults come through our house (and some of them try to come through five times if we let them!).


What made you decide to become a Code Boo Co-Captain?

This is my second year participating in Code Boo. I had such a blast last year that when Cody (who had been in charge since the beginning) was asking around for new people to lead, I jumped at the chance!

I told my fellow co-captain Kevin that I would handle coordination and bullying people into volunteering if he would handle the announcements and art direction. We were both a little nervous since it was our first time handling EVERYTHING (mostly with set-up/lighting), but it all came together! I just received word from St. Luke’s that the haunted house was a huge hit and everyone had an awesome time, so I think that’s the best indicator of our success.


How many staffers participated this year?

We had about 20 Emma staffers total helping out, from unloading and setting up to the actual scaring day-of. I encouraged people to get involved even if they weren’t into costumes or Halloween – we had a job for everyone! We had an awesome crew, I had a blast working with them!


How did you come up with this year’s theme?

Kevin and I bounced around some ideas, then at our first Code Boo meeting we brainstormed a long list. “Nightmare Daycare” seemed to be the best combination of people’s ideas AND supplies we knew we already had on hand. Plus, it let us have the right mix of super fun and super terrifying, which is what we were going for.


What's a favorite memory from this time around or years past?

My favorite memories have to be the costumes people come up with each year. This year we had a scary Elmo and lunch ladies. In the past, Jason has been a bearded lady and a gorilla. Theresa wears the same wig every year, and it never disappoints. And it's always so rewarding to put those final pieces together the day of the event!


Any other fun things to know?

1. Our CEO Clint Smith came with his daughter this year, so that was awesome! She seemed pretty terrified, and Clint kept saying, “It’s OK, we KNOW these people!”

2. We spent the better part of 3 days setting up everything, but we tore it down in just 45 minutes (with some extra volunteers).

3. I still have fake blood in my hair.


Take a stroll through this year's year's haunted house...if you dare.