Alumna volunteers at haunted house for 23 years

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    After 23 years of volunteering for Hangman’s House of Horrors, alumna Darla Robinson considers herself “boo-proof.”

    Robinson, who graduated from TCU in 1985 with a degree in Radio-TV-Film, said she got involved with Hangman’s through the Advertising Club of Fort Worth.

    “I went one night, and it just stuck with me,” Robinson said.

    Her first role was as an actress in the “Cafe Hell” area of Hangman’s, selling “gut-muffins” to guests.

    The scares in Hangman’s that frightened Robinson the most were always the ones that involved little children, she said. In the past, the haunted house had set up children’s rooms complete with toy boxes and young actors dressed as dolls.

    “That scares me,” she said. “I don’t want something creeping out of my toys.”

    But after 23 years, Robinson said she has declared herself mostly immune to Halloween scares.

    “I pretty much can go in a haunted house and not jump,” she said. “Occasionally they’ll get me because it will be from a corner I wasn’t expecting, or it will be pitch dark.”

    The majority of visitors to Hangman’s are between the ages of 18 and 25, Robinson said. 

    “We get a lot of TCU students,” she said. “And the cool thing is there are a lot of TCU students who will volunteer.”

    In the past, fraternity and sorority groups have volunteered at the attraction, she said.

    Volunteers are essential, Robinson said. Hangman’s has needed about 1,000 volunteers per season to build and act in the attraction. On an average night, 200 volunteers would man and operate the house.

    At the end of the season, Hangman’s  would hold a thank you party for those who have worked 40 hours or more at the attraction — usually almost 200 volunteers in all.

    More important, however, was Hangman’s ties to local charities, Robinson said.

    “We are the top charity haunted house in the nation,” she said. Hangman’s has donated net proceeds every year to the American Cancer Society, a Wish with Wings, Cenikor Foundation, Rocky Top Therapy Center and SafeHaven of Tarrant County.

    With Halloween just days away, Robinson said Hangman’s would begin planning for next year’s house soon after the season draws to a close.

    The first order of business would be conceiving a new theme for next year’s attraction.

    “We start that up in January and February and start construction in March and April. It’s an all-year-round project,” she said.