Murderous clowns, Disney princesses and vampiric freshmen all convened in the Heilman Dining Center on Halloween Eve, unable to resist a frightening feast of bat wings and zombie ribs, costume contests and the chance to mingle with the undead.

The Halloween dinner is an annual staple of the campus dining service’s calendar-themed nights, complete with a ghoulish haunted house of shocks and screams and an eye-popping dessert spread that could stuff a small whale. This year, D-hall added a costume contest to its Halloween repertoire, handing out prizes for both the scariest and the most creative costumes. 

Westhampton College’s Sparkman Clark won the distinction of scariest costume with a loyal take on Heath Ledger’s Joker character from "The Dark Knight," while Richmond College’s Lester Primero took home the prize for the most creative. When asked how he would classify his costume, Primero, donning rainbow suspenders that held up pink and barrel-like pants, simply pointed to his shirt that read: “There’s a party in my pants.” 

For their efforts, Primero received a Coca-Cola cooler and Clark was awarded a Dasani-sponsored bicycle, which she proceeded to triumphantly ride around the second room of the dining hall.

The idea for a costume contest came from Jerry Clemmer, director of residential dining, who was able to put the evening’s events together with the help of the school’s Center for Student Involvement and SpiderBoard. Clemmer said he had wanted to incorporate the idea for a while, and his hopes were that the competition could become a yearly piece of D-hall’s Halloween festivities. 

The pageant took place in the dining hall’s second room and was followed by a live music performance from a local band. The third room had been rendered into a horrifying haunted house, again thanks to the labors of SpiderBoard, a student-run entity that assists the school with its event programming. 

As students crept through an ominously lit maze, they were encountered by screams, skeletons and even demented children eerily swaying back and forth on a swing. Clemmer mentioned that this was the first time SpiderBoard had actually been an active part of the haunted house, staking out spots from which to pop out and frighten anyone brave enough to enter.

Not only was the ambiance in the dining hall particularly spooky, with much of the staff sporting their favorite costumes, but a special menu was adapted to delight the D-hall diners as well. “Zombie ribs” were available to all who dared to try them, though the school admitted that the ribs may have been baby back pork. The ribs were accompanied chicken wings labeled as “roasted bat wings,” and burgers billed as containing real brains. 

The dining center even featured a “poison punch," which was actually a sweet orange cranberry juice. The dessert table was in top-notch form as well, featuring candy apples, cupcake monsters and eyeball cake pops.

Campus dining services has frequently collaborated with the SpiderBoard since last year, citing a string of successful theme nights to which students responded extremely well.

Tonya Dawson, the primary campus adviser for the SpiderBoard, as well as assistant director of programming in the university’s Center for Student Involvement, said: “We kinda kicked it off last year. Last year, during Thanksgiving, SpiderBoard brought in a hip-hop violinist and we got some really good reviews from that.” 

Dawson also mentioned a performer that the school had brought in for its Mardi Gras lunch, and said she was always cognizant of the banality that was an unavoidable part of eating in any campus dining hall. She said she was always trying to think about the students.

“You guys come here every day, so what are some ways that we can give you an additional treat as you come into D-hall?” Dawson said. 

Contact reporter Jacob Steinfield at jacob.steinfield@richmond.edu

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