Jon's Way Youth Group in Chicago Ridge designed a drive-through haunted house called, "The Haunted Hall," at the Chicago Ridge Village Hall, 10455 S. Ridgeland Ave. The event will run from 5 to 8 p.m. on Halloween, in combination with a trunk-or-treat for local children and their caregivers.
By Kelly White
With Halloween around the corner, Jon’s Way Youth Group in Chicago Ridge decided to create a fun, spooky and socially distanced way to celebrate the holiday.
The group of teens designed a drive-through haunted house called, "The Haunted Hall," at the Chicago Ridge Village Hall, 10455 S. Ridgeland Ave. The event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Halloween night, in combination with a trunk-or-treat for local area children and their caregivers.
“ I am looking forward to the Jon’s Way Haunted Drive-Through because not only is it fun for whoever attends but it sends a message of positivity and awareness to those who will listen,” said Jon’s Way member Austin Pierce, 21, of Chicago Ridge. “It’s also an amazing way to get people involved in their community.”
Chicago Ridge residents Roger and Karrie Grabinski started Jon’s Way after their son, Jon, tragically lost his life in a car crash on March 5, 2016 at the age of 17, along with 18-year-old Salvatore Melant, of Chicago.
The non-profit organization consists of more than 30 teens, serves as an outlet where teens can volunteer in the community, meet other teens and spend their free time in healthy and productive ways.
“ Chicago Ridge is a community that cares,” said Karrie Grabinski. “Our community always pulls together in the tough times.”
Chicago Ridge Village officials said they are proud to have an organization like Jon’s Way as such a prominent part of the local community.
“ Jon's Way is a great organization made up of Chicago Ridge young people who understand the importance and meaning of volunteering,” said Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar. “They are the first to step up and help out with any community event. I salute and thank them for their efforts.”
Saturday’s Haunted Hall Drive-Through is just another example of how the youth group strives to bring the community together, this time by invoking positivity and seasonal fun. Chicago Ridge resident Jennifer Fields helped Karrie Grabinski and the teens bring it to life.
“ It takes a spark of imagination and some creativity to put smiles on faces, especially in this time,” Karrie Grabinski said. “COVID-19 has brought this creativity out in so many. It’s our way to have some hope and joy. We are so proud of all the participants this year and everything they are bringing to this event.”
As attendees enter the Haunted Hall Drive-Through, at 105 th and Oxford Avenue, they will first be greeted with a trunk-or-treat provided by various organizations from the community, including: the Lions Club, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Chicago Ridge Athletic Association, District 127.5 Board members, Knights of Columbus, The Fraider Family, The Izaguirre Family and a special presentation from the Elks Club.
All of the volunteers will be wearing masks and gloves while distributing packaged candy to individual vehicles.
Then, the cars will turn into Village Hall and enter "Zombie Land." This area will include members from the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Library and Jon’s Way that will be dressed up as zombies. Residents are asked to remain in their vehicles during the entire drive-through portion.
The event will also include a special haunt from the Friends at the Chicago Ridge Public Library and a treat bag that will be passed out by Tokar and members of the Chicago Ridge Elks Club.
“ Halloween has always been the biggest event for Jon’s Way,” Karrie Grabinski said. “This year will be a little different. I believe it brings hope. The adults have done all of the planning this year for safety reasons. But this gives the kids a way to express their creativeness in a safe manner. They will learn other positive ways of coming together for their community, and still have fun in those guidelines.”
For safety and social distancing needs, Jon’s Way has reduced the number of participants to approximately 12 members for the Halloween event, including Cailynn Fogle, of Chicago Ridge.
“ I am looking forward to dressing up like a zombie and scaring people,” said Cailynn, 13.
“ I am excited to see the community come together to celebrate Halloween in a fun and safe way,” said Kate Fraider, 16, of Chicago Ridge.
The teens are hoping for a big turnout, so organizers are asking for residents who are out and about on Halloween night, be sure to stop at the Haunted Hall Drive-Through.
“ I am excited about seeing all of the cars, the people and their reactions,” said Izzy Fraider, 12, of Chicago Ridge.