ANSBACH, Germany (Oct. 23, 2021) – Children and adults alike screamed in terror as they traversed through the smoke-filled rooms. The scene of a disaster? No, it’s the Ansbach House of Terror.
U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Ansbach and the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program opened the “Ansbach House of Terror” in the old fitness center on Katterbach Kaserne Oct. 22 and 23 as well as Oct. 29 and 30, for the community to enjoy with plenty of smiles, laughs and screams alike with more than 250 attendees on the first weekend.
Celebrating Halloween can be very different when you are in Germany, as the country has only been celebrating the holiday for about 25 years since its arrival as a tradition in the mid-1990s.
“Süßes oder Saures” (something sweet or something sour) – or as said in the United States “trick-or-treat” – also takes place in Germany, and is one of the more common activities that has been adopted during Halloween.
One tradition that is not so common in Germany, or almost non-existent, are haunted houses, the scary tradition of walking through a building that has been decorated to look like something straight out of a horror movie. Filled with actors all dressed and ready to frighten as you walk through the barely lit halls and rooms is something that we as Americans get to bring to Germany.
It took over 2,304 combined volunteer hours to design and build the haunted house, and more than 40 volunteer actors investing an additional 902 combined hours during the spectacle, proving that this was by no means a small undertaking.
“Coordinating and planning the haunted house was no easy task and it required help from various organizations including volunteers from mission partners like 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, 5th Battalion 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, and the Ansbach Army Health Clinic, as well as community volunteers,” said Zeljko Stepanovic, director of Outdoor Recreation and BOSS advisor to the garrison.
The Terrace Playhouse Theater played a significant role providing the costuming and a lot of the lighting, which was fundamental in creating the atmosphere.
“It really is a full production where you plan out your set design to include the concept, design concept, materials and then the construction,” said Victoria Hanrahan, entertainment director, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR). “It took about a month to get everything done from start to finish, but its fun and you get to be creative.”
The construction of the haunted house proved to be challenging and took a team of more than 40 volunteers over a month to complete.
“It was wonderful working with the service members, they were very creative and invested into making this happen,” said Hanrahan.
Opening weekend arrived and all of the hard work and effort leading up to this event was finally put on display, as the team and volunteers guided groups through the haunted house.
“I’ve been to many haunted experiences to include the haunted forest in Maryland and the 13th floor in Denver – both nationally renowned,” said Col. Karen Hobart, USAG Ansbach commander. “Our House of Terror here in Ansbach is in a smaller scale, on par with these larger experiences. People should really come and check out this awesome after-hours experience put on for the Ansbach community,”
The best part of the haunted house is that it is family friendly and suitable for all ages as the first two hours from 5 to 7 p.m. is the “children friendly” version of the experience, while the final two and a half hours from 7:30 to 10 p.m. are the adult “extreme experience”.
“We think it will go even better than last weekend and we’ve had even more people sign up, both in terms of volunteers and people buying tickets to come to the haunted house,” said Spc. William Taylor, BOSS president. “These types of holidays and events really allow us to make Germany our home away from home as we embrace the traditions that bring us all together as Americans.”
“It’s not BOSS at this point, it was the volunteers and all of the Soldiers and civilians taking time out of their weekend in order to make this happen,” said Taylor. “To see the entire community come out and participate in the event and truly enjoy the moment with their families and friends as Americans and Germans makes all the hard work worth it.”
Halloween is celebrated differently in Germany; experiencing the holiday in a different country, through the perspective of a different culture is special.
“It’s been fun participating in the Halloween event with the community. I never thought Europe would be into Halloween as much as we are, just an overall great experience,” said Sgt. Joshua Gonzalez, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG Ansbach, one of the actors in the haunted house.
This year’s event will wrap up with the last two days on Oct. 29 and 30 for the Ansbach community to experience the haunted house.