As Halloween Industry Suffers With Sluggish Economy and Rain Eastern State Penitentiary Keeps Crowds Coming

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ — With record rainfall and consumers worried about gasoline and heating prices, Halloween venues across the Northeast are reporting their most difficult season in many years. Emails and late night discussions between professional haunters are filled with horror stories. These are not folktales of headless horsemen and haunted attics. Their stories tell of men and women facing serious financial challenges to keep their seasonal businesses alive for another year.

The record rainfall for October of 2005 has been concentrated on weekends. One local haunted house has been forced to close during four of the seven weekend nights to date. Another expects to take a loss of $200,000 for the year.

In this difficult year, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has managed to keep crowds coming to its acclaimed haunted house Terror Behind the Walls. The event, a massive haunted house in the cellblocks of a real, abandoned prison, has never closed due to weather in its fifteen years. But 2005 has not been easy.

Terror Behind the Walls was able to sell 5,100 tickets in the driving rain on Saturday, October 22nd. Although the big crowds were encouraging, the numbers were down by more than 1,000 people from the previous year. Overall attendance is down by about 15% from 2004.

“We’re going to live to haunt another year, but this has been difficult,” said Sean Kelley, Eastern State’s Program Director. “We’re all seasonal businesses. We raise 85% of the historic site’s operating budget in a few weeks each fall. We won’t get another chance to raise this kind of money for eleven months.”

Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls is one of the largest and most ambitious haunted attractions in the nation. It was ranked Number 6 in the U.S. by AOL CitySearch for 2005. The event features five separate attractions within the prison complex, including the all-new Intake.

The public can find more information at http://www.easternstate.org/ or by calling 215-236-3300.

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