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Photo Gallery: HighBall Halloween

614now Staff

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HighBall Halloween is the nation’s most elaborate costume party. Staged in the Art & Soul of Columbus, the annual event bridges runway style with the culture of the Short North Arts District.

Much like in years past, the city turned out in full force and full costume to celebrate fashion, fall, and fun with host Nina West.

Here’s a look at some of the best looks of HighBall 2019:

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Scream Team: Behind-the-scenes look at local haunting industry

Mike Thomas

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Like many a fiend of silver screen fame, the origins of Kelly Collins’ career in terror involve some teens, a campground, and a fateful ride into the deep, dark woods.

Thirty-eight years ago, Collins was general manager at a campground. Every Saturday at noon, he’d hook up a wagon to a tractor and treat the young campers to a hayride through the woods. The route Collins followed circled around an old oak tree, before turning around and coming back to the start. One Saturday, some mischievous teens sprang out from behind the tree, giving quite a scare to the unsuspecting wagoneers. All of the children screamed in surprise—then they laughed.

Kelly Collins (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

This gave Collins an idea. To spice up his little hayride, he would arrange for the teens to act out the same routine the next Saturday— but this time, he’d up the ante by giving them rubber masks to wear. His plan was set in motion, and this time, the startled youngsters on the wagon cried all the way back to the campground.

“That was a bad idea, but it got me thinking...Why don’t we have a hayride at night and call it the ‘Spooky Hayride?’ ” Collins recalls. By fine-tuning the balance between fear and fun, Collins’ new enterprise was a success, and would set him on the path to a lifelong career in the haunted house business, or “haunting” as it’s known to its practitioners.

Early in his career, Collins became a key figure in the Central Ohio scream scene. After his haunted hayride, he spent a couple of seasons overseeing the Hallowscream event at the now- defunct Wyandot Lake. It was there that he was approached by Ken Schnacke, General Manager and President of the Columbus Clippers baseball team, who tapped Collins to create and lead the “Terror Park” event that was held at Cooper Stadium for a decade.

When the Clippers made the move to Huntington Park, the Terror Park event was shelved. Collins set out again on his own, founding the Scareatorium: a haunted house attraction occupying a 40,000-square-foot space in a northeast Columbus strip mall.

Over the next decade, the Scareatorium would serve as a hub for haunters, attracting and nurturing some of the city’s top talents in the field. From actors, makeup artists, set designers and people who just appreciate a good scare, the group that grew from Collins’ enterprise came together over buckets of blood and latex viscera, but now enjoy the valuable connection of a genuine community.

A longtime compatriot of Collins, Keith Newsome was one of the creative minds behind Terror Park and the Scareatorium. Though he specializes in visual effects design and fabrication, Newsome’s talents in haunting are wide-ranging. Since retiring from 13th Floor, Newsome has remained a vital member of the community, teaching classes on topics ranging from makeup application to mask making and performance.

Keith Newsome (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

This season, he’s lending his skills to an attraction in Lancaster, Ohio titled “A True American Haunt: Birth of a Nightmare.” The house is set up in the Miller Building, a “poor house” originally built in 1828, which event promoters suggest may in fact be haunted. According to Newsome, the building is classified as one of the top-10 haunted houses in the United States, and was recently filmed for an upcoming episode of The Travel Channel show Destination Fear.

“It’s actually a haunted place. I don’t believe in that crap...I do now,” says Newsome. “There’s something in that place. I don’t go on the third or fourth floor anymore.”

Keith Newsome (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

Whether patrons can expect to encounter bona fide spirits along with latex-clad actors in this haunt remains to be seen, but whatever the case, the event serves an important purpose. All proceeds from this haunt will benefit Habitat for Humanity’s plan to revitalize the historic Miller Building, and to help build housing for local veterans.

The charitable angle for this event comes as no surprise in an industry that at times seems like an extended family. People attracted to haunting come from every imaginable background, but are united by a common passion.

“I’ve had people who are financial managers of huge companies, down to people who are almost homeless,” says Newsome. “The cool part about it is that we treat everybody equally. When you walk in, you’re automatically family.”

One member of Newsome’s haunt family is Bobbi Jo Gonzalez, an artist who has turned a passion for body art and makeup into a year-round career.

Bobbi Jo Gonzalez (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

Gonzalez’s first foray into the industry came while volunteering with her eldest daughters at a home haunt. Stepping up to fill the need for a makeup artist, Gonzalez gleaned what she could from YouTube videos. Her tool kit at that time consisted of, as she calls it, “that really crappy makeup you get at Kroger around Halloween.”

After encouragement from her peers at smaller attractions, Gonzalez eventually made her way to the Scareatorium, where she met Newsome. Newsome introduced her to higher-quality, water-based makeup, and she went on to mentor under the more experienced effects artist for two years.

Photo: Brian Kaiser

Today, Gonzalez is the owner of Aftershock Art, a thriving face painting and body art company that operates year-round. She’s also found a healthy sideline doing moulage—the art of creating realistic, simulated injuries on actors during training exercises for the military and first responders.

Like her mentor, Gonzalez sees the past support and encouragement from members of the haunt community as a foundation of the success she now enjoys.

“It’s something that we’re all passionate about, so once you find your niche in that community, it doesn’t matter what your background is, what your religion is, what your sexual orientation is—you have that weird background, and you have a family for life,” Gonzalez explains.

While basking in the warm embrace of your fellow ghoul is reason enough to keep some hooked on this line of work, there’s another essential element that unifies all haunters: the love of the scare.

“I fell in love. I didn’t know you could have so much fun scaring people,” says Ashley Shilling, another former employee of Collins from the Sacreatorium days who today serves as general manager of the 13th Floor Haunt.

Ashley Shilling (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

“Being an actor is a huge stress relief,” Shilling explains. “Getting to scare people kicks in your endorphins, especially if you can make a big man that looks very intimidating scream like a little girl—that’s a lot of fun. At the end of the night, you’re just relaxed.”

Whether drawn to a sense of community that can sometimes be hard to find in the world at large, or simply in it for the thrill of scaring people, the haunting industry has an undeniable pull for those that find their way into its spooky ranks. Even retired industry veteran Collins is unable to fully step away from the work, and is gearing up for his first season as manager of a Spirit Halloween supply store in Newark, Ohio.

“When you scare people, and they scream and run away from you, it’s a great way to let out pent-up frustration,” Collins says. “You could have the worst day in the world, and within a few minutes of working at the haunted house, you feel so much better. It’s a great tension reliever.”

In professional haunting, one person’s fear is another’s bliss.

For more information on the 13th Floor Haunt and other haunted houses happening in October, click here.

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I Love My Job: CBJ national anthem singer Leo Welsh

Regina Fox

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Every day, people all around Columbus drive/ride/walk to their jobs, eager to contribute their passion and talent to the city. This series aims to highlight those people and give them a platform to spread their love for their careers. Welcome to I Love My Job.

You may not know his face (depending on your seats), but you definitely know his name: LEO! Longtime Columbus Blue Jackets national anthem singer Leo Welsh has been stealing the hearts of hockey-goers at Nationwide Arena with his impressive pipes and passion for the game since 2003.

Here is why he loves his job so much:

614: What do you love most about your job? 

LW: The thing I love most about my position with the CBJ is being such a fan and being part of the game experience. It is a total thrill every single time. 

614: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

LW: The most challenging part would have to be maintaining my health during the winter. Hard to sing well when you aren’t feeling your best. 

614: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

LW: The most rewarding aspect is when I am singing and I can see young people singing along to our National Anthem.

614: What’s the best story you have from your time with the Columbus Blue Jackets?

LW: So many great stories and interactions with fans and our military honorees. Most recently the playoffs from last year strand out. The CBJ had a World War II veteran on the ice with me every night. These men were all special and excited the crowd and made it very easy for me to be focused on honoring our country. Several were arm in arm with me and singing along to our National Anthem, very special moments. 

614: Who has been the most influential mentor in your career so far?

LW: I have had many great teachers and mentors. Maestro William Boggs stands out. He is one of the reasons I moved to Columbus following graduation from Ohio University. He offered me a job with Opera Columbus. He was critical when he needed to be, demanded preparation from his singers and was supportive by offering examples and best practices at all times. Truly a great mentor.

Leo will be leading players and fans in the national anthem this Friday as the Blue Jackets open their season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. Puck drops at 7pm.

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I Love My Job: Grayson Kelly of CD102.5

Regina Fox

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Every day, people all around Columbus drive/ride/walk to their jobs, eager to contribute their passion and talent to the city. This series aims to highlight those people and give them a platform to spread their love for their careers. Welcome to I Love My Job.

Grayson Kelly may never be as punk rock as Tom Butler, but at least he works at CD102.5 with Tom Butler. A CD102.5 listener since his childhood in Granville, Grayson was inspired by his favorite DJs to pursue his love of radio at Ohio State. He quickly started running the online college radio station, AROUSE OSU, and caught the ears of CD102.5. Grayson’s dream came true in late 2018 when he came on as a weekend DJ.

Here is why he loves his job so much:

614: What do you love most about your job? 

GK: This is a tough one to answer, because everything rules at CD102.5. 

I think my favorite moments come when the station is extremely busy—I'm talking a New York Stock Exchange kind of busy—because that’s when the most excitement comes; all the fun gets concentrated into one moment. 

When there’s a band upstairs in the Big Room, while I’m taking a caller for a prize, and I have to hit the air in 30 seconds to talk about that new Foals? There’s nothing else going on in the world in that minute, and I can live entirely in the moment, within the microcosm of our station and its wonderful listeners, and I can’t think of anything else that’s more fun or fulfilling. 

Photo by Alexandra Adcock

My other favorite part is meeting those listeners out on the town. Some of them have been tuning in since before I was born! We think listener feedback is so important, so it's extremely cool to meet the people that tune in, and to bring their ideas right back to the station. This is truly the best job in the world -- and our listeners are the whole reason we're here -- so I'm really grateful for them every time I'm fortunate enough to meet one.

614: When did you know this was what you wanted to do with your career?

GK: I’ve been listening to the station for as long as I can remember, and I think it shifted me way more than I realized on some subconscious level. When I graduated from Granville High School in 2012 (shouts out to my fellow Blue Aces, I know you’re out there), I knew I wanted to be in the music industry, but I didn’t know where -- until I took a couple gap years and found out that radio in other cities… Tends to suck. I knew then what I missed the most: I wanted to come back to my favorite city and work for my favorite station, in any position they’d let me.

614: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

GK: Signing off on a Sunday evening, because most of the time, I know I won’t be back in your radio until the next weekend! I’d do this for for days at a time if Mase asked me to... But for your sake, I’m glad he doesn’t.

614: How does this job play to your strengths?

GK: Something I find interesting about radio, in particular, is it allows me the chance to satiate my desire for public speaking, without actually seeing people and getting that immediate feedback. I don’t know if I’d have the courage to drop half the bad puns that I drop on the air if I could hear our audience’s deafening silence that undoubtedly follows. 

614: What’s the best story you have from your time at CD102.5?

GK: I asked a similar question to our owner, Randy Malloy, before I was hired. He said it was silly to name a “best time”, but then rattled off a dozen epic tales about seeing the Ramones at CBGB, chilling out with Iggy Pop, and so many other absolutely insane stories. I was baffled by that answer.

But I think I get his point now. I can’t give any definite answer, because so much has happened over the last year -- as soon as I think of one, someone will remind me about that extremely fun interview with Liam Gallagher (of Oasis), or getting to introduce The 1975 to 10,500 of their amazing fans at our Summer Warm-Up.

To be honest, I think the funniest moment came before I was hired. Randy introduced me to Tommy Stinson (of The Replacements), and I was massively starstruck. He proceeded to grab me by the shoulders, and title me a “So So Glo”, before immediately passing out on his tour bus couch. I’m still waiting on my album credit.

614: If you weren’t a DJ, what career would you have chosen?

GK: If I ever get fired, you can find me living in a log cabin in the Upper Peninsula, trying to last through the winters on a diet of hand-caught fish, working on a beard, and wearing only flannel shirts. Really, I have no idea -- but wouldn’t that be fun? 

Photo by Kendall Smith

614: Who has been the most influential mentor in your career so far?

GK: Way too many to mention! The folks that work here are all so inspiring, and the atmosphere is so wholesome.

I’ve been really grateful to get to know our owner, Randy Malloy -- he’s a total workhorse. The dude broke his leg falling off a ladder a couple weeks ago -- then climbed back up to finish the roof before going to the ER, and I’m sure he’s still pulling 60 hour weeks keeping us afloat. He sets a really good example for work ethic and attitude. 

But when I was 17, I took a picture with Tom Butler, and I think it’s still the coolest picture I ever did take. There’s just this pure joy on my face that I got to meet the guy that lived in my radio and showed me all these amazing artists, before we’d ever met. Today, I can’t explain how fortunate I am to work alongside him and look up to him. No matter what kind of bad day / week / month I could have, I know he’s always there to offer some pretty sage advice.

Mase is alright too, I guess.

Bonus question: Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

GK: Matty Healy from The 1975 really changed my perspective on this. If you think about a duck's quack, in relation to the size of the animal... Then scale that up to a horse, you're in what he calls "ship horn territory... [and] it would be relentless". Then he chose the huge duck. I'm gonna need these ears to keep working, so I think I have to try my luck at the 100 tiny horses!

Grayson can usually be heard on CD102.5 Saturdays 1pm- 6pm and Sundays 3pm -6pm. For more on Grayson and the rest of the jocks at The Alternative Station, visit cd1025.com.

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