Brashinger: Frankfort-area ‘frightmaster’ has bigger venue, plans
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistemail@example.com October 17, 2013 12:42PM
Mike Brooks, of Frankfort Square, has gone from creating a Halloween haunted house at his home to creating a larger one at a new venue outside Frankfort. | Photo by Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 21, 2013 6:14AM
Residents of Frankfort Square may wonder what happened to a popular Halloween display that had grown in size and reputation over the last nine years.
The home of Mike and Debbie Brooks became a popular Halloween attraction on Pine Hill Road, drawing about 100 people on weeknights and double that on weekend nights during October, Mike Brooks, creator of the scary scenario, said.
But it had to come to an end, Brooks said.
“It got too big, too busy. It was a concerning matter for all of us when 30 cars would line up (on the street),” he said, adding that “the whole neighborhood’s mad. They loved it.”
For Brooks’ first display in 2004, he parked his mobile food trailer, “Deb’s Deli,” in his driveway, decorated it for Halloween and put a “monster” in the vehicle attached to the trailer.
“I had about 500 hot dogs and a bunch of food on the truck,” he said. “We served the whole neighborhood hot dogs, pop and chips for trick or treating.”
That was the first and last Halloween when Brooks offered untraditional treats, but he was hooked on entertaining the neighborhood and indulging in a new hobby.
Brooks, who works in maintenance for the Will County Public Building Commission, began taking his vacations in October. He would work on displays for about a month before his yard was ready for viewing in the first weekend in October — building, mechanizing and costuming the bulk of his creations himself.
When it all came together, Brooks, his sons Donny, 26, and Michael, 21, his daughter Jenna, 19, and other “actors” became part of the displays.
“Everything was interactive. (Visitors) could walk through my yard and press buttons and get into photo scenes,” he said.
Brooks said he especially loved delighting younger children, whom he said especially liked “touching the worms” in the butcher scene and sitting in the electric chair.
“Little kids got to go up and push buttons and touch (the displays), and they love that,” he said.
Brooks, 47, said he hopes his yard displays created great Halloween memories for others like his own from childhood.
“I remember it was a big thing pulling out the box of costumes and decorating our big front porch in Oak Park. It just brought back a lot of memories,” he said.
Brooks plans to keep those memories alive despite having to discontinue his front yard display. After last Halloween, he began searching for a place to rent where he could safely construct his display and accommodate a lot of people.
A warehouse on 191st Street seemed to be the perfect spot, but when Brooks talked to the owner, Mark Tracy, he was disappointed to find that it had been leased.
Tracy, owner of Fawn Landscaping which relocated to LaGrange Road years earlier, had something else in mind. In 2011, he opened Creepy Hallow, a Halloween fun park, at his 55-acre business property on the outskirts of Frankfort.
“Mike said he heard a lot of good things about what I did and said, ‘Let’s see what we can do together,’” Brooks said.
In July, Brooks began work at Creepy Hallow on “Scaryland,” an interactive area reminiscent of his yard displays in a large building with indoor seating. The park also includes Tracy’s Bloodshed Haunted House, Zombie Paintball, Haunted Hayride and a corn maze among other nighttime attractions designed for preteens and older.
Among the daytime features for younger children are a less intense Scaryland experience, a giant pillow jump, hayrides, a pumpkin patch, barrel rides and a petting zoo.
Even adults have activities to enjoy. Upcoming special events include a “Dead Elvis Show” by Elvis impersonator Dave Thomas, of Frankfort Square; NAWS pet adoption days; and Trunk for Treats on Halloween night. A variety of “scary movies” play throughout the evening.
Brooks’ goal for Halloween 2014 is to create a nighttime “PG-13” area so entire families can enjoy the park together during the evenings.
“It’s good for everyone,” he said. “They’re going to come to the park, and they’re going to grow with the park.”
For more information, visit www.creepyhallow.com or call (708) 532-6668.