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Oct 26, 2011 10:09 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Kiwanis Gear Up For Creature Feature Fundraiser

Oct 26, 2011 11:43 AM

Imagination can be a scary thing when you’re Peter Liubenov or Scott Wilson.

Swinging axes, robed skeletons and torture chambers have physically manifested under their supervision this month in preparation for the second annual Southampton Kiwanis Club’s Creature Feature Costume Ball on Saturday. The two Kiwanis members are once again transforming the Water Mill Community Club’s Burnett Field House into something out of a horror movie set.

Ghouls, goblins and witches will parade through a zombie-infested graveyard on their way to the most “haunted castle” in the Hamptons—and all for a good cause.

“It will be a great party, and at the end we’ll turn the profits back to the community,” said Southampton Kiwanis Club President Robert Gill. “It’s a win for our club and a win for all the people we support through our club.”

Last year, the Kiwanis club raised $3,600 at the haunted forest-themed costume ball. Even though it was the first-ever Halloween party the club put on, it set a precedent that, according to Mr. Wilson and

Mr. Liubenov, must be beaten this year.

“I was so impressed with the decorations,” said Mani Cofield of Southampton. “Even the littlest things were in theme.”

Ms. Cofield, who attended last year’s ball as Marilyn Monroe, said she loved the hotdog finger food that actually resembled fingers and a giant spider that hung playfully from the ceiling. Others were enchanted by a full moon that loomed dangerously close and were creeped out by skeletons that lounged on the chairs and couches set out for the living.

“To me, it’s a movie set,” said Mr. Liubenov, a Southampton High School social studies teacher. “We’re only limited by our imagination.”

With a bare-bones warehouse, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Liubenov only had two weeks last October to create a convincing haunted club atmosphere. Pulling ideas from iconic “creature feature” horror movies and television shows they grew up watching in the 1960s and 1970s, and from their somewhat morbid imaginations, the costume ball was a spine-tingling hit.

The Creature Feature Costume Ball provides the perfect chilling atmosphere for the Frankensteins, the undead and the creeps who want to give back to kids in the community. Those who will encroach upon the Water Mill Community Club’s land on Saturday, however, must be at least 21 and have $40 for entry at 8 p.m. Tickets also may be bought at The Carpetman in Southampton, 633 County Road 39A, or Evolution Fitness, 33 Hill Street.

“A lot of people don’t know how important lighting is,” Mr. Liubenov said. He and Mr. Wilson worked together at Stortz Lighting in New York City years ago, and learned that theatrical lighting can make all the difference. “I also learned that from watching ‘Star Trek,’” the self-professed nerd said. “I was just telling Scott how much they did with that show with little money—that’s what we do. We have a little bit of stuff, and we gotta make it look like it’s really something.”

While they receive help from friends, family and fellow club members, it really comes down to Mr. Liubenov and Mr. Wilson to transform the 4,800-square-foot building into a Halloween-themed club. “Ninety percent of the work load is done by those two people,” Mr. Gill said. “It’s a lot of pressure, squarely on their shoulders. It’s a tremendous effort.”

The other 10 percent of the work being carried out by friends and fellow Kiwanis Club members is greatly appreciated by the duo. “We’re the point men, but without these other people we can’t get this done,” Mr. Liubenov said.

From construction to decorating and donating furniture, the Southampton community has been generous. The Water Mill Community Club has donated its field house for an entire month this year, simply in return for discounted tickets. To avoid some troubles they ran into last year, the Kiwanis club hired DJ Rah G Raj, a local DJ who has a following. According to Mr. Lubinov and Mr. Wilson, he gave them a break on the price, and people have bought tickets simply because they heard DJ Rah G Raj is working the music. And to make things easier, Mr. Gill has agreed to store all of the Halloween decorations.

“He’s the most ambitious, hard-working guy,” Mr. Liubenov said. “‘Whatever you need,’ is his response to things. I don’t know if he sleeps or not. He might be a vampire.”

One of the most generous acts last year was performed by Kiwanis member Bruce Peterson, who paid for people’s taxi rides home. This year, the Kiwanis are figuring out a similar way to provide the same safety net.

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