Pa. haunted house alters plan for 'naked event'
Posted: September 27, 2013 - 4:36am

READING — Naked and scared has turned into semi-clothed and kind of spooked.

A Halloween attraction's heavily publicized plan to allow guests to go through one of its haunted houses in the buff was revised Thursday amid opposition from local officials in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Shocktoberfest, a popular seasonal attraction outside Reading, promoted the "Naked and Scared Challenge" as a way for thrill-seekers 18 and over to, um, expose their fears and phobias by wandering through a haunted house completely nude.

But owner Pat Konopelski said officials in nearby Spring Township and Sinking Spring borough told him they weren't comfortable with it. So, for now, he has agreed to require guests to wear underwear.

"We didn't really feel a battle would have been fruitful or help any of the parties involved," he said.

Konopelski, who launched Shockertoberfest about two decades ago and has seen it grow into one of Pennsylvania's largest Halloween attractions, said he was inspired by cable TV's "Naked and Afraid," in which two strangers are dropped into a challenging environment without clothing, food or water. He said that by allowing guests to disrobe, "they'll be very, very vulnerable," thus heightening the fear factor.

"Every year we keep thinking we gotta go bigger, we gotta go better, we gotta impress them more. Rather than going bigger better, I could now scare you with a feather," he said.

Spring Township awarded Konopelski a public gathering permit in May, but told him that allowing guests to go nude was a significant change to his original application and that he couldn't do it without first getting the township's approval. Sinking Spring delivered a similar message.

"We didn't have time to react or fully think through all the issues that could arise from something like this," said Spring Township Manager Jay Vaughan. "He certainly has the right next year to make application and we will react accordingly, but that's next year."

Konopelski said he hopes to work it out with municipal officials and offer an all-nude option in 2014.

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