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Beulah the witch takes over Shania Centre

Beulah the witch takes over Shania Centre

By Chris Ribau, The Daily Press

Every year Beulah the witch takes over the Shania Twain Centre. This year is no different.

For the sixth-straight Halloween, Beulah is transforming the centre into a house of horrors.

"Every year Beulah comes here and takes over," said Tracy Hautanen, manager of the Shania Twain Centre. "She's opened restaurants here and she's even tried to make meals out of the guests that visit us on Halloween."

This Saturday will be no different. For $2, guests will be ushered through the centre and underground between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for an elaborate tour that's guaranteed to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

"Beulah has a special event planned this year, which is by invitation only," said Hautanen. "Our guides have invitations to the special event and if you're brave enough to come you'll have a lot of fun."

There is even word that some of her friends may be lurking around inside the underground part of the tour.

"After you come through Beulah's special event in the Shania Twain Centre, you go underground to see if you can find some of her friends there. We'll even have some of her nicer friends taking over the gallery for a colouring contest," said Hautanen.

There are three stops on the guided tour that is sure to make the fillings in people's mouths pop out.

Beulah chose the centre because it offers the best place for her and her friends to gather to celebrate Halloween.

"I enjoy it here," said Beulah. "It's a great place for my friends and I to gather because it's nice and out of the way. We can set up shop unbothered."

The entire experience takes about an hour to complete.

"There are long lineups, so people will be waiting in line for a bit, but we'll be showing halloween movies while people wait. Everyone will leave with treats. We have lots of goodies for our guests. Plus, the winners of the colouring contests will be called back for some prizes," Hautanen said.

Every guest will receive a special gift from Beulah before they leave.

"I really like to pick on the parents, so kids should be accompanied by one," said Beulah.

Organizers want to caution people that strobe lights will be used throughout the experience.


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Ghastly thrills - PHOTO GALLERY

Annual pre-Halloween event at Shania Twain Centre

By Ryan Lux, The Daily Press Posted October 23, 2011

The Shania Twain Centre's manager Tracy Hautanen once again assumed her annual alter ego, Beulah.

Beulah was back in Timmins on Saturday, this time as a bride.

Hundreds of families lined up outside of the Shania Twain Centre to witness the nuptials and check out a ghoul or two at the same time.

The centre, usually an homage to the local songstress, was transformed into a den of fright with witches and masked creatures lurking in every corner and the many Shania mannequins donning haunting costumes.

"In the summertime, we're a tourist attraction. But, in the off season we try to be an event place for the community so people can come up here and enjoy the centre," said centre manager Tracy Hautanen a.k.a. Beulah.

"This is our sixth year and our theme is every year Beulah comes to the site and takes over," she explained.

Hautanen recalled past "takeovers" where Beulah transformed the centre into a restaurant and done infomercials.

She said the running narrative is part of what makes the annual haunted house such a hit with Timmins families.

"It's all about the story. Our guides tell a story leading up to the big event to get visitors excited. It's important that they get an experience instead of just looking at stuff. Plus, it's definitely fun to put Shania in all these different costumes."

The elaborate transformation takes nearly a week to complete, but Hautanen said thanks to enthusiastic volunteers, they manage to pull it off each year.

"All of the high schools require students to do volunteer hours, so I reach out to the schools and word spreads fast," she said. "This tends to be one of the more fun volunteer things to do because they get a chance to scare adults and small children alike."

The indoor part of the tour wrapped up with visitors sitting down to watch and participate in Beulah's marriage to a severed head which she chose for his delicious-looking brain.

Displeased with her bridesmaids' choice for groomsmen, Beulah hand-picked male audience members to stand in.

Despite her bridezilla tendencies and pushy demeanour, Beulah managed to tie the knot.

Following the ceremony, visitors descended into the spooky bowels of the old Hollinger mine where they encountered a sasquatch in the dimly lit shaft.

Screams and some tears demonstrated that even after six years, Beulah hadn't lost her touch.

"It's all about the unknown," said Hautanen. "You need to keep people guessing about what's around the next corner."




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