Down a long and winding road in Leesburg, you’ll find a large, brick mansion that looks as if nobody has ever step foot in it. Despite the initial eerie design, a lot of good comes from the site, as well as the campus that surrounds it, as it is home to The Arc of Loudoun, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing services and support to those affected by disabilities.
For more fun events in NoVA, subscribe to our Things to Do newsletter.
Yet each year during the month of October, the on-site staff staff takes advantage of the mansion’s look and turns it into a horrifying, thrill-ensuing haunted house, attracting thousands of individuals on an annual basis, even leading Travel + Leisure to name Shocktober the fifth most terrifying haunted house in the country in 2018.
This year’s theme plays on real history of the Paxton Campus by turning the entire property into Camp Carlheim with a brand-new design featuring black-out windows, abandoned bunk beds and a “basement of souls,” to name a few elements.
In addition to the spooky design of the mansion, hundreds of volunteers move throughout the house in an effort to dramatize the scene. For those who don’t love the element of surprise, this year’s event features a 10-minute escape room attraction located in a private corridor of the manor, giving you and five other friends the chance to use your wit to break free.
Outside the mansion, local businesses like Tarara Winery, The National and Old Ox Brewery will be on-site providing bites and treats to those who don’t dare step inside. For younger guests, there will be other attractions, including a zombie brain game and the chance to step inside a coffin, as well as a fire pit for families to enjoy.
One of the key elements of Shocktober is that it enables students and children within the programs to interact with the community, specifically local high school students, and, according to CFO Lisa Kimmel, “There’s nothing better that The Arc can do than that.”
Proceeds from the annual event primarily benefit the newest of the five programs on campus: the Aurora Behavior Clinic, which provides individualized therapeutic options for children with autism and other related disabilities. Since 2010, Shocktober alone has generated $2.5 million or about 25% of overall funding for The Arc of Loudoun.
In addition to day-to-day fundraising, The Arc of Loudoun hosts three main events each year—Shocktober, My Bloody Valentine and Paranormal Investigations—all generating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit. In 2018, the combined events brought in 17,614 visitors, as well as $625,000 in proceeds.
For tickets to this one-of-a-kind, Halloween-inspired event, click here. // The Arc of Loudoun Paxton Campus: 601 Catoctin Circle NE, Leesburg; $34-$75