Eastern State Penitentiary gives away free spooky tattoos on Friday the 13th

About 150 people lined up outside Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary early Friday morning to receive a free tattoo to celebrate a gloomy Friday the 13th. The tattoos, from the artist TRUE HAND, ranged from cats to bats to dancing skeletons, all with thick black lines in the classic flash style. The event marks the beginning of the Halloween season and kicks off the penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls, which is the historic prison’s biggest attraction and fundraiser. 

Nina Guzzi waited in line from 5:45 to 11 a.m. to get a cat tattoo from Michael Lambdin. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Nina Guzzi waited in line since 5:45 a.m. to get a cat tattoo from Michael Lambdin. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Nina Guzzi, from Northfield, N.J., and a few friends were the first to arrive at 5:45 a.m. Tattoo artist Matt Lambdin etched a haunted cat onto Guzzi’s shoulder. Mike Jenette, already covered in ink, also got a cat. Why does he have so many tattoos? 

“I couldn’t tell you,” he said.

Artist Jacob Des tattoos a cat in a bowtie onto Mike Jenette’s thigh. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Shame Sweeney picked the first tattoo that jumped out at him, a skeleton on top on another skeleton’s shoulders. He’d been to Terror Behind the Walls before, and as he waited in line for four hours, he recalled “what I went through in there.” 

Shane Sweeny got in line at 7 a.m. at Eastern State Penitentiary on Friday the 13th, 2019. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Shane Sweeny gets the outline of a skelton tattoo on his thigh. He chose the decision because it was the first one that grabbed his attention. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Casey Paul, Terror Behind the Walls’ new senior production manager, got a character tattooed on her arm she’s been playing for the past 6 years of her decade in the exhibit: a creepy nurse waving a syringe. The tattoo will remind her of her first season in her role as manager at a place she loves working.

Casey Paul, senior production manager at Terror Behind the Walls, gets a tattoo of a character she’s been playing at the haunted attraction for six years, the nurse. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY
Casey Paul, senior production manager at Terror Behind the Walls, gets a tattoo of a character she’s been playing at the haunted attraction for six years, the nurse. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Terror Behind the Walls opens next Friday, September 20, and runs select nights through the 9th of November.   

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