LATHROP – Zelmar Vedder stepped a little lighter after walking out of the Lathrop Senior Center Monday night.
The 8-year-old Joseph Widmer student had just made his way through the alien crash site haunted house hosted by the Lathrop Seniors and the Senior Advisory Commission, He was still breaking down the experience as he geared up for a night of trick-or-treating in his illuminated costume.
Regardless of how freaked out he might have been, the immediate horror quickly turned to fun as he fidgeted around when trying to explain what it was he liked about it.
“It was very scary. There were aliens that just popped out of nowhere,” Vedder said. “They had a baby alien in this tray and they wanted you to touch the gooey stuff. It was fun though when the guy jumped out of the cabinet and infected one of the other guys in the room.
“It was a lot of fun.”
Senior Center Director Chris Lawrence took the alien idea – originally pitched by assistant Debra Wheale – and ran with it as a fundraiser to help come up with the money needed to outfit the site’s flat-screen television with a sound system.
He wrote a script, came up with concepts for the various actors and started contacting local community groups to see if they’d be able to pitch in to turn it into a real event.
And while the turnout on Sunday and Monday nights was slightly below what he wanted to see, the feedback and the support from local high school kids and groups like Lathrop High’s Interact Club and the JROTC Spartan Battalion.
“I’m happy with our product and the kids themselves are doing a great job. The JROTC kids are out in the parking lot on patrols to help sell the story, and everybody else that volunteered is making this great,” Lawrence said. “My goal is to make this something that we can turn over to the kids so that they can raise money for their organizations in the future.”
Even regular members of the community stepped up to help make the event a possibility.
Lathrop BBQ contest winner Shea Pitts of Slap Ya Mama BBQ was asked by Lawrence if she’d want to be a part of the event by volunteering. She asked her daughter, Leslie Maldonado, if she’d be interested in coming with her to help out, and the 10-year-old agreed to forego her trick-or-treating in order to help out with the community function.
“Doing what we can to lend a hand in the community is something that means a lot to us,” Pitts said. “And how many kids do you know that say they don’t want to go trick-or-treating – they’d rather do something like this instead? How awesome is that?
“Of course we promised her two bags of candy when we get home. She liked that.”