It's almost ready!
Neighbors and strangers alike have been walking, stalking and driving by Toby Wrolson's house at 340 Annandale Dr. in Lake in the Hills, for several days now, awaiting its Halloween 2013 opening.
"Haunt 31," as Wrolson calls his Halloween house, opens this Saturday, Oct. 12.
"We had a wedding to attend this past weekend so I got a little delayed," said Wrolson, as he busily worked Tuesday night hooking up extension cords, lights and animated decorations in his front yard, hoping to take advantage of the last fading moments of sunlight.
During the next few days, Wrolson, who does have a full-time job by day, will be piecing together more displays, fixing anything broken from last year, adding cords and outlets, and making sure all of his props run by computer PLC are properly programmed.
"Every prop is run by a computer program," Wrolson said. "I have lasers across the sidewalk so that when people walk along the path, they are triggering the animated displays."
Wrolson estimates he has $80,000 to $90,000 worth of animations, decorations and props adorning his front lawn and inside his garage (all guarded by seven security cameras, and he's adding four more cameras this year).
"This year, I bought a lot of costumes," he said. "I'm a member of Chicago Haunt Builders so I group-buy. I get a better deal that way."
Wrolson describes Haunt 31 as a "hobby turned crazy obsession." His wife, he said, tolerates the ghoulish past-time, even when the family vacations include destinations to Halloween display shows and events across the country.
"It's a passion," he said, with a laugh.
New this year is the mausoleum filled with mummies. It's the exit to the overall exhibit, and actually empties onto the neighbor's front lawn. The neighbors don't mind the intrusion and are caught up in the spirit of the holiday, as well.
"We think it's cool," said Lisa Bennett, who lives next door to Wrolson with her husband and children. "We do get a lot of trick-or-treaters because of it, and we always run out of candy."
On the other side of the house, the Wrolson zombies have cornered off the yard, and giant, hairy black spiders have made themselves at home, as well.
The front yard is devoted to the graveyard and is filled with tombstones, coffins, wrapped bodies, skeletons, skull heads, several rubber snakes and the infamous Grave Digger.
Wrolson's garage has six animated displays including the electric chair that guests can sit in.
In addition to all the decorations, Wrolson has recruited a team of friends who dress in costume and roam the yard. Meant to add to the experience, Wrolson promises they won't physically grab visitors, or scare them too badly.
"This is meant to be spooky and eerie, and it's supposed to be fun," he said. "If little kids get too scared we lend them a flashlight."
The public is invited to visit Haunt 31, which operates from Saturday, Oct. 12, through Oct. 31.
Haunt 31 is free (donations accepted), and the lighted, animated displays run from dusk until 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and from dusk until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Displays do not run if it's raining.
More information can be found on Wrolson's website, www.Haunt31.com.