The echo of a slamming door resonates as costume-clad guests peer around dark corners, tentatively inching forward amidst the shrill shrieks and whimpering cries.
The Okinawa Single Marine Program hosted the Okinawa Haunted Labyrinth Oct. 21, 22, and 28-30 on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The labyrinth is one of the many open-gate events that strengthens the relationship between Okinawa residents and Status of Forces Agreement members through fun, thrills and laughter and has been hosted for the past four years.
“This is the largest SMP event on Okinawa,” said Pfc. Michael Philips, who is assigned to Marine Aircraft Control Squadron 4, Marine Aircraft Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We spent a lot of time getting the word out and letting them know that we want to be active in participating and furthering this relationship with them.”
As the sun set, hundreds of guests filtered through the gate and lined up at the front door of the labyrinth.
“I brought my kids and they enjoyed it a lot,” said Shinobu Kyan, an Uruma City, native, who attended the event. “Though they were scared in the labyrinth, they loved getting to try something different on base. We always enjoy our time on base and we hope to attend next year.”
Outside the labyrinth, volunteers garbed in spooky costumes posed for photos with guests who waited in lines. The younger participants sat with parents and painted designs on pumpkins.
“I’m really proud of how hard my volunteers worked to make these plans a reality,” said Philips, a Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, native. “All the actors are outstanding and hardworking. We have volunteers from several units on MCAS Futenma and Camp Foster. Without them, this haunted house would not have been the success it is today.”
After the guests found their way through the labyrinth, children collected candy and enjoyed food at the food court with their families.
“Halloween is my favorite holiday and I try to share that with everyone because it really brings everyone together,” said Philips. “A good thrill is something everyone enjoys and it’s awesome to share that with the Okinawa residents. We want them to know that we are welcoming them here the same way they welcome us when we visit their restaurants, stores and other places off base and experience their culture.”
Story by Cpl. Janessa Pon