The Haunting on Green Berry brings Halloween havoc each year.
Hosting on Halloween generally means switching the front porch lights on, preparing a bowl of mini-sized candy bars, and donning a last-minute costume. But for Larinda McRaven, owner of McRaven Ballroom, Halloween includes months of brainstorming, choreography, and a lot of animatronics.
The Haunting of Green Berry and Thriller Flash Mob by McRavel Ballroom began 11 years ago with a small dance performance by a group of friends. Over the years, not only has the group evolved, but the group’s performance has grown to engage hundreds of members of the Jefferson City community.
“The very first year I did it, I had no idea,” Larinda. says. “I didn’t have this grand vision. But, I am a dancer, I have time, and I have friends who are willing to dance. But, as people started asking, word spread. It just grew because the community asked for it, and I said sure!”
The dancers who perform at The Haunting of Green Berry range from preschool-aged children to retirees; all who want to be involved are welcomed. There are different levels of choreography taught by Larinda starting each year in July, and it can even be an activity for the whole family.
“Dancing in a yard with mole hills and landscaping is drastically different from dancing on a hardwood floor, but it is just a fun, wholesome act for anyone or any age.”
However, dancing is not the only element necessary for a successful year with The Haunting of Green Berry. Those who want to be involved in the production, but do not want to dance, have opportunities that do not require any rhythm. For example, Gary Campbell, Larinda’s husband, assists with the setup and tear-down and has a recurring role as a clown on the roof. The mob of volunteers has also grown to extend to different types of performances. Past shows have included performances from a world professional yo-yo champ, aerial dancing, fire throwing, and twirling acts by hula hoop performers. The McRaven’s haunted house itself, located at 1824 Green Berry Road, also continues to undergo transformations that expand its spooky mystique. These transformations have gone from general scare props to a haunted cemetery to its current design, a creepy circus carnival.
Audiences are welcome to see the mob on Thursday and Friday the week prior to Halloween. “If you do not get there early, you will not find space to stand,” Larinda cautions. “Lawn chairs and blankets will not be permitted. Children will be on their parents’ shoulders, and some people may be standing on ladders — it will be packed.”
IT’S SOMETHING REALLY FUN AND INTERESTING THAT THE COMMUNITY LOVES, AND IT BEGAN AS THIS LITTLE GOOFY THING IN MY YARD.— LARINDA MCRAVEN
To help with upkeep and to commemorate the tradition, the group sells T-shirts each year. After more than a decade of production, there is still a novelty to the community project. For those interested, updated information, inquiries, rehearsal details, and more information can be found on the Haunting of Green Berry Facebook page. “Fun groups and friends evolve from each production,” Larinda says. “I love that I overhear people talking about it in the line at Lowe’s. It’s something really fun and interesting that the community loves, and it began as this little goofy thing in my yard.”