Attendees gather outside Church 212's "Nightmare on Old 69" Friday evening (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)
“We want people to think,” Church 212 Pastor Chris Harrison said Friday to a crowd of participants at “Nightmare on Old 69,” the church’s Halloween event put on to raise awareness about addiction.
Nightmare on Old 69 is a live-action, walk-through event depicting the real-life horror of drug addiction based on the experiences of real victims of addiction from the Cullman area.
Harrison told The Tribune earlier this month, “It’s kind of an updated version of the old ‘judgment houses’ that they used to have around the county around Halloween. And it kind of has a dual purpose, so it’s not just about knowing God, and heaven and hell. But it’s about one of the greatest epidemics that we’ve ever seen in our day, as far as the opiate epidemic: drugs- heroin and meth, and that kind of thing.”
Once entering, attendees follow the story of two teenagers who overdose on drugs, both dying. It plays out as two teens at a party, one trying to stop the other from drinking and taking drugs, insisting on finding help. The two teens end up in a bedroom, the drug user getting ready to try heroin, while the good friend continues to insist on finding help and trying to talk the friend out of doing the drug.
“What if you do this and you end up dying?” the friend pleads.
The drug abuser shrugs her off and says he will only find help if the she tries the drug, too. The good friend hesitantly agrees, and as a result, both fatally overdose.
The next scene is a funeral scene, with actual funeral directors/workers from Moss-Service Funeral Home, which donated two caskets (with a parked hearse outside the church) to use for the scene. In the caskets are not the two teenagers, but instead mirrors. After the funeral the two teens are found at the pearly gates, the voice of God renouncing the drug abusing teen, who is sent to hell, while the friend is sent to Heaven.
The second to last scene is Hell, where the room temperature gets heated and ear-piercing screams are the only thing you can make out aside from the cries for help from the poor, doomed souls. After an intense walk through Hell, you find yourself in Heaven, where you see the good friend being welcomed by Jesus Christ.
The trail ends with Harrison speaking to the attendees. “We know that you can’t scare someone into being a Christian… the only thing that makes a Christian is the Holy Spirit.”
Outside of the church tents are set up for counsel and prayer in case any partakers of the nightmare feel personally or emotionally impacted.
Harrison talked about the impact he wanted to make, “We do hope they’re impacted by the reality of what eternity is; everyone dies.”
This is the first year Nightmare on Old 69 has taken place, with months being spent on preparation. No money is being made from this event; food is offered for a donation. Church 212 is also accepting donations throughout.
You have one more chance to check out Nightmare on Old 69 this season. The last event is Sunday at 5 p.m.
Admission to Nightmare on Old 69 is free. Church 212 is located at 4690 County Road 437.
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