Green Bay Fear’s frightful family

Behind the masks and gore, members of one of the area’s haunted attractions feel a sense of camaraderie

By Erin Hunsader

The chainsaw wielding clown Mr. Jingles and his crew of frightful freaks is a scary sight, but Green Bay Fear Makeup Manager Alicia O’Donnell said the crew behind the scenes is one big loving family. Photo courtesy of Lovell Richardson Photography

A chainsaw-wielding clown by the name of Mr. Jingles. A hospital lab assistant whose fate went horribly awry. A ghastly thespian by the name of Skitz.

These are just a few of the characters who call the Shawano Manor, the gorily decorated Beja Shriners Bond Street building haunted by the Fearstein family, home.

“They are weird, freaky and just not right,” Green Bay Fear Makeup Manager Alicia O’Donnell said.

The Fearstein family is the latest of the macabre attractions that make up the seasonal haunts at Green Bay Fear (1950 Bond St).

O’Donnell, who has been with Green Bay Fear for 11 seasons, said despite the weird and freaky happenings inside the attractions, the behind the scenes feel like one big family.

“We call ourselves a ‘fear family,’” O’Donnell said, “I think that sets us apart.”

O’Donnell said all of the characters and behind the scenes hands are volunteers, which is special to her because people chose to be a part of something bigger than themselves for the month of October.

“They love it and love doing it,” O’Donnell said. “It’s really nice to see everyone come together.”

O’Donnell delights in creating her scares through her makeup artistry. It was her artistic ability that roped her into Green Bay Fear to begin with.

“I had done some mobile Halloween stuff and some people that were involved in the haunted house said ‘Hey you should come join us,’” O’Donnell said. “I didn’t know it was a thing. The people who invited me were some of the owners and some of the people that built the haunted house so they’d been doing it a long time. I had some really good mentors and teachers within the industry to work with.”

When she first started at the haunted attraction, she was helping at an entry level to get characters ready for their nightly scare sessions. Now, she is in a managerial role where she works closely with costume managers and designers to create creepy looks from scratch.

“We have a makeup and a costume department and we do all our own makeup,” O’Donnell said “We do airbrushing and hand-painted makeup. (At) the costume department they get pieces of clothing through thrift stores and then we alter them and distress them and we let the actors help with that part too,” O’Donnell said.

Besides Green Bay Fear’s makeup and costume departments working to create one of a kind looks, O’Donnell said the attraction is unique because it goes behind being a “one and done” haunted house.

You wait in line, you go in and you’re done,” O’Donnell said. “Ours is more of an experience. You can experience the different levels of terror. The fun but more shocking jump scares with the fun house, then the woods (are) a little darker and creepier and some people are afraid of the dark, and then you have the haunted house scare where it’s more creepy and weird.”

Brave (or foolish) souls begin the attraction in the funhouse, somewhere O’Donnell said is sure

to have guests leaving laughing, or even sick.

“You get lost in there, you get disoriented, you can’t see where you’re going and there are a few surprises in there. I don’t want to give anything away,” O’Donnell said.

A trip through Shawano Manor 

O’Donnell said Green Bay Fear tries to add new, scary scenes to the attractions every year. “Bob Land” is a new attraction this year, which O’Donnell described as a sort of twisted take on “Alice in Wonderland” led by a not so friendly white rabbit named Bob.

“The rest of the woods is a trail and you’ll see different characters throughout the

trail,” O’Donnell said. “Some are above eye level and some are below eye level. As you walk, the characters kind of guide you through. There’s different shacks, there’s a crypt, there’s a witches’ area and different scares throughout there that you can walk through too.”

Guests who make it through the woods and Bob Land are directed to the haunted Shawano Manor, ready to greeted by the Fearstein family If you make it through the woods then you will

be directed to the haunted house to meet the Fearstein family—a charming group of demented relatives.

“It’s a home and a family,” O’Donnell said. “You’ll be greeted in the front entryway and you’ll get a back story from each character and why they’re there. There is a living room, a mad science laboratory, an attic, a toy room with surprises thrown in there.”

O’Donnell said she didn’t want to give any of the scares away, but a walk through the manor is worth it. In fact, she said she has seen people quite literally have their socks knocked off at the end of the haunt.

“I’ve seen people put up their fists out of fear,” O’Donnell said. “I’ve seen people jump back so far they’ve lost shoes or hats. Articles of clothing flew off their body. When they get so scared they jump back they create a domino effect (and) knock everyone over behind them.”

“Bob” the bunny is one of many characters
waiting around the corner at Green Bay Fear.

Photo courtesy of Lovell Richardson

Last year Green Bay Fear had to make adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. O’Donnell said a couple of those changes were kept this year.

“We still use our timed ticketing system,” O’Donnell said. “You sign up, get a ticket link and then you get a time slot. It’s really nice and it helps the flow of traffic. It helps keep people a little less clustered.”

O’Donnell said that masks (worn by visitors) are required inside of attractions as well. But it’s the people behind the masks, both the scare-r and scar-ee, that keep her coming back year after year.

“There is great camaraderie behind all the scary stuff,” O’Donnell said.

Erin Hunsader is an Arts and Entertainment Reporter for Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached at [email protected]

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