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Screen screams: Auburn business afflicted by COVID-19 opens haunted house
HALLOWEEN

Screen screams: Auburn business afflicted by COVID-19 opens haunted house

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

Anthony Feocco has been producing haunted houses for awhile. But a combination of unusual circumstances this year led to maybe his most unique one yet.

The owner of Sharp Shooter's Lazer Tag in Auburn has teamed with friend Greg Cornell to present The Big Screen of Terror throughout the month of October at Feocco's 44 Washington St. business.

Proceeds from the haunted house will support the business, which has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a beneficiary or two to be determined later. Feocco and Cornell said it will probably be another victim of the virus, such as the youth sports organizations that haven't been able to play or raise funds for more than six months now.

The pandemic has limited the terrifying possibilities of Feocco and Cornell's haunted house as well. As low-risk indoor arts and entertainment under New York state's COVID-19 guidance, the attractions must enforce social distancing, restrict capacity to 25% and require face coverings. The first requirement in particular has made planning The Big Screen of Terror "extremely challenging," Cornell said. 

But he and Feocco still believe they've created an experience that lives up to its name. One reason for that is the high-tech resources at their disposal: At one point, patrons of the haunted house will strap on Sharp Shooter's laser tag guns and take aim at a horde of zombies. Feocco and Cornell aren't revealing any other details of the attraction so as to preserve the surprise, but they don't recommend it for children 12 or younger. They can attend if accompanied by an adult, but there will also be a lights-on matinee for them on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The haunted house will be staffed by Feocco, Cornell and about 20 volunteers. Feocco said he'll be providing them food and beverages, as well as an appreciation party afterward. Food will be available to patrons from food truck Tin Galley, operated by Amanda Pinckney of Buck Tucker's Home Cookin', every night the attraction is open and most days as well. 

Feocco, who produced The Big Screen of Terror at The Shops at Ithaca Mall for several years, said it's been "a long journey" to the haunted house's Auburn debut. He's found help from not only Cornell and their volunteers, but also the Auburn community, as several individuals and businesses have donated money to buy tickets that will be raffled at facebook.com/bigscreenterror so people can experience the attraction for free. Feocco appreciates the support as he continues to face a situation that he couldn't help describing in terms similar to a horror movie.

"I'm just looking to do what I can to survive," he said.

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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