OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Being chased through a haunted house by a chainsaw-wielding attacker is terrifying enough for most people, but for a group of blind and visually impaired teens and adults, the feigned mauling brought another level of fear.
For members of NewView Oklahoma, a nonprofit group that helps the visually impaired and blind, Halloween took on a new twist as they were invited to tour an elaborate haunted house in Oklahoma City.
“It was the scariest thing ever,” Dalton Wright, 13 and visually impaired, said of his first haunted house experience.
“The chainsaw guy was the worst. I want to go back, though. I loved it.”
The Bricktown Haunted House is located in the city’s historic Bricktown warehouse district, now converted into an entertainment and restaurant hub. It has been organized around Halloween for nearly 30 years and helped establish the renovated district of the city as an entertainment center.
The blind and visually impaired adults and youth were invited to tour the haunted house a week before Halloween. For most, it was their first visit to a haunted house.
Many said the creepy feeling of doom and the jarring sounds from all angles were the most frightening and thrilling part of the experience.
“The blind and vision-impaired do everything that sighted people do every day. They have the same cares and wants, and they want to be entertained same as everyone else,” said NewView Oklahoma Program Director Tamera Babbit.
Actors were told about the blind visitors, but did little to change their performances.
Ted Corcoran, 49, of Oklahoma City attended with his sighted daughter.
“As far as navigating, I’m pretty good at feeling my way through the dark. I’m pretty hard to scare, but I dare them to try to scare me,” he said before going through.
For the most part he kept his cool among the mad voices and the people brushing by, but there were twinges of fear.
“You’re in the dark and suddenly someone jumps out in front of you and screams. There were a couple scary moments,” Corcoran said.
The main agent of fear was the person dubbed “chainsaw guy,” who wore a leather mask and is known in real life as Marcus “Panda” Bagwell.
“My mother went blind,” said Bagwell. “My mother had macular degeneration, and I had to train her to walk, pour drinks, cook, you name it. I’ll eventually go blind myself.”
He said he did not pull any punches when it came to scaring the NewView clients.
“I love that they’re doing this. If I could take my mom, I’d do it,” Bagwell said. “I’m not going to turn it down, because that’s the fun of it.”
Wrting by Jon Herskovitz