Markoff’s brings Whitman students into its sinister staff


Photo courtesy Sophie Isbell.

By Aaron Titlebaum

Distant screams and maniacal laughter welcome groups of all ages into the ghost town tucked back in the macabre woods. Markoff’s Haunted Forest has once again created a sinister set for this Halloween season, and the scariest character may be someone in your math class.

Markoff’s Haunted Forest returned to Calleva for the entire month of October with a new theme: “Backwoods Mayhem.” A team of actors, part-time workers and some students work together scaring customers, while also gaining acting experience and building close relationships among the staff.

Junior Sophie Isbell works as a ghoulish townsperson who greets and scares the guests within the forest.

“I like to sneak up on the people coming in and pretend I am eating this dead animal carcass,” Isbell said. “Who doesn’t want to tell strangers they would look delicious to eat?”

Scares aren’t the only thing that attract crowds to Markoff’s. Juniors Ellie Trainor and Baillie Olin help prepare concessions.

“We work in the kitchen, we all get in costume to serve people, but we weren’t a fan of the scaring part,” Olin said. “All the people really like the food, even though it’s made by a bunch of teenagers.”

Working behind the scenes at Markoff’s allows people to bond easily. The environment lets people feel welcome and allows them to be comfortable when they transform into monsters.

“I personally enjoy working at Markoff’s because everyone is such a family,” Isbell said. “There is a community environment that is all welcoming and fun as we scare the incoming victims.”

Markoff’s has also become a place for workers to refine their acting skills. Working in the town and on the trail are the best places for students to completely immerse themselves into terrifying characters, Isbell said.

“I love acting, so Markoff’s was just a natural thing for me to do,” Isbell said. “I get to be this creepy, crawly person and it definitely allows me to expand myself as an actor.”

While student workers said they enjoy the payoffs of the job, they also appreciate either earning SSL hours or getting paid minimum wage.

“I would one hundred percent recommend working at Markoff’s for next Halloween season,” Trainor said. “Markoff’s is always looking for more people to help out in this awesome spectacle.”

People of all ages are allowed to work on the trails, but the staff advises future employees to be prepared to transform into menacing creatures.

“We always try to be all inclusive, but would advise you be a little tougher to work here.” Isbell said. “There is no way out once you enter.”