Scare for a Cure hosts an elaborate escape-room adventure at J. Lorraine Ghost Town in Manor, Texas.
By Raylyn Nicole, Photos by Flashbax 23 Photography and Forever Lola Photography
Jarrett Crippen has always been the guy with over-the-top Christmas, Halloween and even Easter decorations. Now he’s using his love for holiday décor to fight breast cancer.
Crippen co-founded Scare for a Cure, a haunted escape room, with his then wife, Norma, in 2007 to raise money for breast-cancer recovery. They currently host the spooky adventure on 4.5 acres at J. Lorraine Ghost Town in Manor, Texas, and partner with Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas.
The owner of J. Lorraine Ghost Town, George Richards, remembers when he was a little kid and saw the man on TV who built Adventureland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland at the happiest place on earth. He remembers being stunned that a grown-up would build something just for fun, so he decided when he was a grown-up, he would build something just for fun like Walt Disney did. When not hosting Scare for a Cure, the ghost town offers horseshoes, volleyball, an outdoor movie theater, a maze, a waterslide, a human foosball court and food options at the grill.
Unlike most haunts, Scare for a Cure changes its story and theme every year.
“This year’s theme is not scary at all,” Crippen says. “It is the Happy Time Magical Circus. What could possibly go wrong?”
Teams spend an hour going through the experience to find clues and solve the story.
“We were doing puzzle rooms before there were really puzzle rooms,” Crippen says.
Cindy Margules and Alex Eschweiler have been Scare for a Cure customers since the beginning.
“What we enjoy the most is the interaction,” Margules says. “We go to haunted houses all over the country, so we love having fun with haunted houses.”
Eschweiler says this haunted house is what you make of it, noting the more fun visitors have with it, the better the experience will be.
“It is an immersive story and you can get as involved as you want,” Eschweiler says. “They appreciate it. I enjoy having them break character and laughing because they have such great volunteers here.”
Scare for a Cure relies on volunteers who help with building, marketing and acting. The board members are equally committed to the project, contributing more than 2,000 hours a year, which is 80 hours short of a full-time job.
“It is a lot of work,” Crippen says. “It is a lot of fun, but it is a lot of work. It’s family, you know. We have a greater purpose. And there is something to be said of being a part of the greater whole.”
Crippen says supporting local philanthropy has been a value since the beginning. Scare for a Cure has since donated $235,000 to BCRC, along with making smaller donations to a variety of other local causes. Volunteers from BCRC run the merchandising booth at the end of the haunt. Carol Hardy, a six-year breast-cancer survivor who received help from BCRC during her fight against cancer, is happy to volunteer.
Scare for a Cure also hosts The Boneyard, a giant maze that follows more of a traditional haunted-house structure, with volunteers jumping out to scare guests.
The Scare for a Cure haunt runs weekends through the month of October, and the group also offers Quest Night in February, an elaborate fantasy adventure.
“I guess I keep coming out because it is my baby,” Crippen says. “But it is no longer just my baby. It was truly raised by the village. It is pretty amazing.”