ABC 7 Spooky Scenes (1.04)
Algonquin Patch Interview Clip
When Jim Haupert was looking to buy a new house in Algonquin, he had certain requirements in mind.
First, any contenders must have a sizable front lawn--- big enough for a makeshift cemetery. And, the new house would need plenty of storage - to hold the tombstones, skeletons, and other ghoulish creatures from the makeshift cemetery.
And, most importantly, the new neighbors must hold an appreciation for Halloween.
"When we were looking at this house, I went next door and asked the neighbors how they felt about 'Halloween,'" Haupert said, with a laugh. "I wanted to make sure they were OK with it before we moved here."
Haupert wasn't just looking to relocate his family, which includes his wife Sandy and his 15-year-old daughter, he needed a larger house to relocate "Halloween Town" - his animated cemetery display of witches, zombies, and other spooky characters.
He settled on a house at 1821 Hartley Drive, just a few blocks away from his old house at 415 W. Parkview Terrace in Algonquin.
It was while living on Parkview Terrace that Haupert's passion (or obsession) with Halloween began. He started with a small graveyard and a few skeleton lights. Kids liked the display, and parents began taking photographs of their little trick-or-treaters, using the graveyard as a backdrop, on Halloween night.
Then Haupert saw the movie, "The Nightmare Before Xmas" which inspired him to transform his front lawn into "Halloween Town," one of the holiday towns depicted in the movie. He started by installing a giant Jack Skellington, the main character from the movie.
"My old neighbors got to watch it grow little by little, so they had some time to get used to it," Haupert said. "It was a slow buildup. I started about 10 years ago, and got more extreme about it the past four years. This is probably more of shock for these new neighbors seeing it all at once."
So, far, "Halloween Town" seems to be a hit in its new digs. As Haupert talked about his hobby while standing in the cemetery, cars slowed down with complete strangers looking and shouting compliments about the display. One driver shouted, "We'll be back on Halloween!"
"We're liking it," said neighbor Marni Stevenson, who lives a couple houses away. "My kids want to visit it every day."
Haupert is part of the Chicago Haunt Builders, a club for Halloween fanatics that get together to buy and build yard decorations.
His display is now officially open for haunting. People are welcome to walk through the cemetery gate and stroll across the front lawn. During the weeknights, guests will see the animations - cackling witches stirring their brew, skeletons standing among a smokey toxic waste. There are plenty of sound effects and special lighting.
On the weekend, Haupert's friends roam the yard dressed in costumes to enhance the Halloween fun. On Halloween, Haupert himself dresses up as the mayor of Halloween Town.
The public is invited to stop by and visit Halloween Town for free. Hours for visiting through Oct. 31 are: