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ILWU Dispatch Center Converted To Haunted House For Second Annual Event

Maggie Nelson/KUCB


Unalaska's International Longshore and Warehouse Union is hosting a haunted house this Saturday in celebration of Halloween. This is the second year the ILWU has hosted the event.

Jeffrey Garth, vice president of the ILWU Unit 223and ILWU state officer southwest leader Bruce Barton led me through the dispatch center next to Safeway — giving me a sneak preview of Saturday's haunted house.


The building, which is still a functioning dispatch center, had been transformed — brimming with dismembered, bloody, plastic bodies, screeching demons, and the quintessential menacing chainsaw. 

Right away, as I followed Garth through the maze, dodging red-eyed, leaping spiders, I could tell he was a big fan of Halloween, and for him, the haunted house was a labor of spooky love.

"We did [the ILWU haunted house] last year, and I did it at my house for a couple of years," said Garth. "So [these decorations] are all an accumulation of stuff from about five years."

Garth added he'd take Halloween for Christmas if he could. 

Before helping put together the haunted house at the dispatch center, Garth hosted one at his home for a few years. And now his kids are also helping decorate and volunteer at the haunted house.

According to Garth, they'll have about 15 people helping scare and guide patrons. And Barton added that the entrance and exit will be two separate areas, to create a one-directional flow of traffic.

This year, the haunted house has also been expanded to help accommodate social distancing to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. And Garth said they are doing their best to ensure everybody is safe.

"Everybody's got to wear masks," said Garth. "We've got hand sanitizer at the front here for everybody. We won't have more than four to six people in at a time, and we have plenty of ventilation going through here."

There will be a couple different levels of "scare" for different age groups and comfortability said Garth. And he hopes to see a good turnout this year, despite the pandemic.

"Because of the whole COVID thing, and because the weather is not supposed to be very nice, I don't expect too many people," said Garth. "But who knows. We had a lot of people last year, but hopefully we'll have more." 

The Haunted House is located at the ILWU dispatch center next to Safeway and will open at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Entrance is free and hand sanitizer and masks will be available for those who need them.

Unalaska's PCR will also be hosting Halloween events this weekend. 

On Saturday afternoon, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., families are invited to take part in the PCR's Annual Halloween Tricks and Treats Event.

According to PCR Special Events Coordinator Nichel Kernin, the event is a pre-trick-or-treating activity.

"It'll be on a guided system, where [people] will come in and take a picture, they'll play some games, and then they'll be able to take a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch," explained Kernin. "And then they will get their goodie bag full of fun candies, prizes, and treats." 

Hand sanitizer will be provided, games will be regularly sanitized, masks must be worn, and groups will be distanced to observe local COVID-19 health mandates.

You can find more information on the PCR's Facebook page or on KUCB's community calendar.

Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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