Now with paid actors, 'haunted' ship looks to raise the fear factor


Launched in 1937, The William A. Irvin was the flagship for a family of ore shipping vessels on the Great Lakes. Upon its retirement, the vessel has sat in Canal Park next to the DECC for a few decades.

Attracting thousands of guests annually for historic hands-on tours, the Irvin has made quite a name for itself, and come October, the Irvin transforms into one of the most haunted ships on the Great Lakes.

Every year since 1992, volunteers and contractors transform this iron ore-hauling machine into a place where thousands of people come to get a scare.

Stephanie Ukkola, head of marketing for the haunted ship, is happy about this year’s theme: ‘What are you fears?’

Since 1992, the haunted ship has had a different theme every year. This year brings new actors -- contracted actors, to be exact.

With such success in the past, the budget was a little higher than normal due to last year’s zombie apocalypse theme, which brought in record numbers.

Having this extra money gave the DECC the opportunity to hire talent to provide the extra scream it was looking for this year.

Davan Scott is a scare junkie, and a good one at that. He has been working for the haunted ship since 2004, and for the first time in the William A. Irvin’s history, he will be working alongside other contracted actors to give individuals a little extra jump.

Scott will be one of the lead actors and plans on “switching it up.” He will be Giggles the Clown and couldn’t be more excited this year to scare individuals.

Scott couldn’t be more sure that this year’s ship will be like no other. When asked if the talent he will be working side by side with will be scarier than ever, he replied, “ We won’t just provide the jump-out-and-scare-you factor, we will provide the actual environment.

“We will make it smell, feel, look and sound like the environment we want you to be in.”

And Scott believes that with this group of talented actors they will be able to give people the paranoia they so desperately come looking for.

For those interested in the paranormal, the William A. Irvin has a little something extra.

Scott can attest to the belief that the Irvin actually is haunted.

“Ever since 2010, there have been some unexplainable and odd things that have happened on the ship,” Scott said.

Doors closing, voices and much, much more have been heard on the ship.

“We have even had our security cameras shaking violently out of nowhere,” Scott said.

And last but not least, what if you want to scare people but aren’t exactly an actor or actress?

“We will still take all the help we can get.” Ukkola said. “Anyone with a passion for acting can apply to volunteer.”

The first night, 57 volunteers showed up to the Irvin ready to help and scare, and even more showed up the second night.

For information including volunteer opportunities, click here.

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