300 residents take spooky tour of new ship

Coast Guard reaches out to Cordovans by scaring them

Residents were given a look inside a recently arrived Coast Guard cutter during an Oct. 25 “haunted ship” event.

The USCGC Fir arrived in Cordova Sept. 23, following a five-week voyage from Baltimore. Some of the vessel’s 47 crew had been away for over four months.

Three hundred residents visited the “Haunted Fir,” said Ensign Allison Rychtanek, who organized the event. It was Rychtanek’s first time managing the annual haunted ship event.

“Not every ship does this, and not every community has the same relationship with their Coast Guard cutters as this one,” said Collin Bronson, the Fir’s captain. “This event is indicative of that great relationship.”

During the event, the Fir’s corridors were draped with chains and bones, and patrolled by ghouls and homicidal maniacs portrayed by Coast Guardsmen. Participating Coast Guardsmen enjoy some leeway in designing their own costumes, Rychtanek said. Most Halloween decorations are reused from one year to the next, although consumables like makeup, glow sticks and artificial spiderwebs must be replaced.

From 5:30-7 p.m., the Haunted Fir offered more subdued scares so as not to excessively terrorize younger visitors.

The biggest logistical challenge was keeping the Fir ready to respond to an emergency even while the event was underway, Rychtanek said. Each group of visitors was guided by two Coast Guardsmen who made sure that nobody slipped on the Fir’s steep stairs and ramps. Twenty volunteers assisted in setting up the event.

“We’re promoting that bond between the Coast Guard and the community,” Rychtanek said. “The town of Cordova does a lot for us, so it’s nice to be able to give back.”