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Municipal officials object to 'Naked and Scared' challenge at Shocktoberfest

| Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 12:34 a.m.

The show must go on, and so must customers' underwear.

A Berks County man said on Thursday that he dropped his plans to let paying guests go naked through a new attraction at his annual Shocktoberfest Halloween because municipal officials objected.

The Naked and Scared Challenge gave customers the choice of going through the attraction “nude or prude” — naked or wearing underwear.

“Borough officials took the position that this is adult entertainment,” said Pat Konopelski, who runs Shocktoberfest on his farm. “What we are doing clearly is not adult entertainment. But, not wanting to pick fights with our neighbors or township officials, I conceded and said: ‘Does anybody have a problem with the prude option?' They said ‘No, that's fine.' ”

Konopelski's “scream park” lies in Spring Township and Sinking Spring Borough. Sinking Spring Mayor Francis Butkus said lawyers were concerned that adding nudity to the popular “scream house” — now in its 30th year — would violate zoning laws.

“I'm not a lawyer. I'm just a small-town mayor, but according to our zoning area, it's not zoned for that type of entertainment,” Butkus said.

Scott Simmons, creative director of ScareHouse — a popular and extreme haunted attraction in Etna — said the decision stifles artistic freedom.

“Sometimes when you do something weird and edgy, and people don't know what it is, they're against it,” Simmons said. “That's too bad. To me, haunted houses are a form of artistic expression — and the most interesting expressions come when you burst through artistic boundaries and don't listen to what people say should be.”

Konopelski, president of the Haunted Attraction Association, places thrill-seekers at Shocktoberfest in reality-based scenarios, such as the Prison of the Dead Escape, in which zombies chase participants through rooms.

He said he hopes to iron out the legal issues and offer the nude option next year. Konopelski will offer full refunds to anyone who bought advance tickets to the Naked and Scared Challenge and to those wanting only to go through naked.

“We're disappointed,” he said. “We were very excited to offer this innovative new concept that's never been done anywhere in the world. We were the first to come up with idea, and we wanted to be the first to execute it.”

Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632.

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