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Spooktacular Haunted Art Show raises money for trade school


Story and Photos By Tabitha Mueller

Revelers in costume at the Halloween Haunted Art Show

Mystical beings, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, skeletons, and other creatures of the night gathered at Co-Auto on Saturday, Oct. 26, for its inaugural Halloween Party and Haunted Art Show. Attendees explored a haunted art gallery, commemorated the evening with photos taken at a green-screen photo booth, watched live muralists, and danced the night away in a late-night silent disco.

Local Rotarian and Co-Auto owner Vinnie Lucido dreamed up and organized the event, which was a scholarships fundraiser for Innovations High School students planning to study trades at Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) next fall.

“I love people. I want it to be a great party, but it’s about the scholarships, [and raising] money for kids from Innovation High School to go to TMCC and work with their hands,” he said.

Lucido, his friends, fellow Rotarians, and co-workers, spent hundreds of hours designing and constructing the haunted art gallery in Co-Auto’s recently acquired ADAS calibration center. The elaborate exhibits showcased pumpkins made by artists from the Reno area and students at Innovations High School. Local businesses sponsored the pumpkins.

You saw the flashing lights… your heart starts pounding a little bit…what’s going to happen?”

Creators based each room in the art gallery on one of the seven deadly sins. Actors embodying the souls of those who had committed the sins waited inside each exhibit, greeting spectators and sharing their woes. Heat sensors and tripwires triggered scary noises and creepy occurrences that scared attendees, while artistically placed newspaper clippings and signs on the walls added layers of stories to each of the exhibits.

Andrea Packer and her husband Jeremy Packer, dressed as Crown Royal and Coca-Cola drinks, noted the exquisite attention to detail and creepiness of the haunted art gallery.

“When we walked through, you saw like the flashing lights… your heart starts pounding a little bit like, oh… we don’t know what’s around the corner, what’s going to happen?” Jeremy said. “There were a few points where you’d hear a loud noise, and someone would pop out of the curtain, like, what the hell was that? What’s going on? It was a lot of fun, and there were definitely some scary points.”

Andrea added, “It was cool to see how interesting everything was and how they got it all put together.”

A decorated art pumpkin at the Halloween Haunted Art Show

Once through the haunted art gallery, people could vote for their favorite student-made and professional artist-made pumpkins. The winning artists received a cash prize.

Nicki Sinclair, one of the professional artists who created a pumpkin, attended the fundraiser and expressed amazement at how Lucido and his team blended the haunted with the artistic.

“I got here yesterday…and I was like, this is awesome! As far as the haunted house, they did  really good for the kid purpose, because it was kid-friendly before 10 o’clock,” Sinclair said. “[But overall] they did a fantastic job with it. I mean, decorated to a T! The effects and everything were really good.”

No Halloween party is complete without a costume contest, and with a $500 grand prize, the Halloween Pumpkin Art Show did not disappoint. Costumes ranged from elaborate gowns and fantastical masks to the age-old Halloween classic, a ghost costume consisting of a single pure white sheet with two holes for eyes. Audience members selected the winners via loud cheers: three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Lucido plans to host and expand the fundraiser at Co-Auto in the future.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday, and this is a great opportunity to intermix my passions [for contributing to the community and working with my hands]…I don’t let much slow me down,” he said.

Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller is a freelance writer and multimedia journalist based out of Reno, Nevada. She is fascinated by storytelling, place, and the intersection of narrative and data analysis and holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography and English and American Literatures from Middlebury College. When she is not tracking down a story or listening to podcasts, you can find her hiking Nevada’s gorgeous terrain, perusing local bookstores, playing Quidditch, and discovering Reno’s hidden stories.