Haunted ship scares up frights, fun

Beware of skeletons. See the USS Turner Joy in a new light as it becomes a haunted ship this weekend and Halloween. - Photo by Sean Janssen
Beware of skeletons. See the USS Turner Joy in a new light as it becomes a haunted ship this weekend and Halloween.
— image credit: Photo by Sean Janssen

Fans of haunted houses can take on a scary setup with a twist this weekend as the USS Turner Joy takes a turn to the dark side for the first-ever Halloween Haunted Ship on the downtown waterfront.

Debby Baker, nearing the end of her term as executive director at the Turner Joy museum, planned one final, fun bash to attract families to the ship before she takes over as director of the North Mason Chamber of Commerce.

“I dreamt it up. I like to come up with crazy ideas and try to make it happen,” Baker said. “We wanted to draw people down to the ship and also have fun, bring out families.”

Haunting the destroyer has been no small feat with dozens of volunteer working day and night to get the ship ready. Still, Robert Haller, a Bremerton High and West Sound Technical Skills Center student who has been volunteering with the Bremerton Historic Ships Association for the past month said chills come sort of naturally aboard the ship.

“I’ve worked here when there’s no one around in the dark and it really is creepy,” Haller said. “You hear the creaks of the ship, the splashing of the water … it’s like this place was just begging to be haunted.”

The ship’s rig-for-red lighting also readily lends itself to a spooky effect. Not all of the twists and turns thrill seekers will be led through will necessarily lead to a nautical-themed scare, but the Puget Sound Pirates group will be on hand to haunt the captain’s quarters and various other rooms, nooks and crannies aboard the ship.

What has made it all possible has been all the help the Historic Ships Association has received from volunteers. Haller is among a contingent from the West Sound Tech travel and tourism class, while other high school help has come from the North Mason High School Key Club, who Baker calls a passionate group that has been traveling 30 miles up the road routinely to take part.

“It’s really neat that they have taken this on,” Baker said of the school groups.

One hundred community volunteers currently serving on the USS John C. Stennis have also joined in preparing for the event, Baker said.

“People are just signing up left and right. Response was terrific,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without a large amount of volunteering.”

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