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Halloween: The Fun in Fright

Story Time: Let me start by saying I grew up hearing personal account ghost stories from multiple members of my family. Both my aunts lived in haunted houses, my whole family used to talk about the stuff that has happened before I was born. Even after I was born things still occurred.

When I was in second grade, my cousin and her husband Jim lived next door. Jim was my hero and he died on his motorcycle at the end of our long driveway. The ambulance and police were there when I got home from school one day. The next day both my cousin's house and our house started experiencing strange things. Both family and friends witnessed the events, some refused to come back. Phone calls, voices, the motorcycle starting on it's own in a locked shed, rooms dropping in temperature when the hallway 5 feet away remained warm. And me, seeing Jim in the dark outside the living room and screaming in terror. I was 7 and while I remember events back to the age of 4, including snippets from the night my sister died, I don't remember seeing Jim. The things didn't stop happening until the family went to a friend of my aunt's, a psychic. The psychic had never met Jim but explained what he looked like exactly, including the clothing he was wearing the day he died.

I don't know if it's the stories and events that took place in my early years or what, but I've always loved Halloween, and at the same time I'm the worst person to take through a haunted house or trail. I'm the realist, the pragmatist. Look at that water bottle, there's going to be someone hiding there. Don't worry about the guy with the chainsaw chasing us, by law he can't have a chain on it. It's just loud. Ooh, those effects are so cool! I laugh, and I laugh, and I laugh at everyone else's terror. People assume I don't enjoy it the way they did, and while that maybe true, I have the time of my life. Sometimes my stomach hurts from laughing so hard.

I've never been one for watching horror movies. Most of the time they are just not interesting to me and while some are mildly creepy, I just don't get scared that way. Maybe it's because my aunt (the one with the psychic friend), and all 5 of her kids loved horror movies. So I grew up watching all the classics of the 70's and 80's. with me being 5 years younger than the youngest cousin, I'm sure I should not have seen any of them. Perhaps I became desensitized to the fright of it all. But my fiancee really likes scary movies so every year we try to watch they latest new seasonal fright show. She especially likes ghost stuff but hates clowns and creepy kids. I humor her and of course scare her in the appropriate predictable moments.

Even though I could take or leave the movies, even if the haunted attractions don't do much but give me a good laugh (well, it's people reactions that do), I love Halloween more than any other holiday. It's a day of magic, mystery, and freedom to be whatever you want to be. It's also a day to make that happen for others. I like costumes but I love creating a cool Halloween space for people to enjoy.

Every year for the past 4 years I've been staying home to hand out candy while the rest of the family walks my fiancee's two boys around the neighborhood. We are all fortified with warm Witch's Brew (spiced red wine) scooped from the crock-pot inside. I create my hanging tree and graveyard a few weeks before Halloween, adding more limbs and tombstones each year. Then on Halloween day I build my hospital, the Howell E.R. I built my own light up sign.

I make a body under a sheet, then fill a tray with bloody implements nearby. I wear scrubs and a lab coat, plus I add props to the garage every year. the walls are covered in black plastic and eerie classical horror movie music plays while creepy sound effects are also going. I have a motion activated blood donor named Michael who is tied to a chair, a talking zombie head eating a rat, and a giant clawed clown hanging from the ceiling. And I greet people with a bloody saw.

Children refuse to enter. Adults take a second away from their dreary night to come inside to check it out. Teens give it their seal of approval...something that RARELY happens. And I'm happy that I could create something cool, unique, and just a little scary for those that love such things. And for all those who are afraid to push through the plastic. I call out clearly to say if you're afraid to enter, I'll bring candy out. It's no problem. But here's a little secret. I'm proud of that half dozen or so who can't bring themselves to enter my garage.





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