“Back in its heyday, the library was called a mansion when the Bowlby’s first moved in and called it home,” said Cathy Douglas, public relations practitioner for the Eva K. Bowlby Library in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.
The library will be hosting a Haunted Mansion Tour Oct. 26 beginning at 6:30 p.m. with professional storyteller Alan Irvine igniting the night of scares with some ghost stories.
“There’s always been talk among staff that Mrs. Bowlby still resides here as a ghost,” Douglas said.
Books unexpectedly drop to the floor in the children’s department, phones mysteriously ring out of nowhere and items get misplaced all the time.
The library will be decorated as creepy as possible with the help of volunteers. As long as the weather cooperates, the gazebo located on the front lawn will serve as the staged area for Irvine to prep the audience. Irvine is a storyteller from Pennsylvania who offers stories to all audiences and ages.
“From what I can anticipate, he is going to be really amazing,” said Megan Ealy, manager of youth services at the library. Ealy will then be sending groups of five to eight, starting around 7 p.m., to tour through all four floors of the library. Children under the age of eight are not encouraged to attend as there will be several jump-scares and volunteers are not given restrictions on how creepy to dress or act.
“It’s a family-oriented event,” Douglas said. “This sounds kind of funny because we might be allowing scary things to happen, but typically the library is known and trusted as a safe place in the community.”
Typically, they see a lot of adults and grandparents attending with their teens or pre-teens.
“Teenagers are funny because they want to be scared,” Douglas said, “but then they’re like ‘I know who that was!’”
The Bowlby Library has been holding this event for several years now.
“When we first kicked it off, we had a very large teen advisory group. They were very instrumental in being the zombies,” Douglas said.
Volunteers from the community now include several teenagers, as well as volunteers from the university to help decorate. The volunteers are what continue to make this event successful.
“There is no way our staff could do it all on our own,” Douglas said.
Volunteers have just a short amount of time to decorate between when the library closes down on Saturday to when it reopens for the haunted mansion tour.
“Each year we try to recruit one volunteer to dress up as Mrs. Bowlby,” Douglas said. “Last year it was a teenager.”
They disguise this volunteer based off of a picture of Mrs. Bowlby hanging near the front entrance of the library.
Douglas and Ealy enjoy hearing the stories of those who come back year after year and recall the scares they have experienced.
“It’s a service to the community to be able to come to a safe place and enjoy a little bit of Halloween,” Ealy said.