Why do you do this?

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday.  Halloween is the perfect holiday to be creative; the littlest things can be made into scary displays.  As a teenager, I would have Halloween parties at my parents’ house, I would take black garage bags, and fill them with leaves, turn them upside down, paint scary eyes, and teeth and put them around the 2-acre property, and we then would play “ghost in the graveyard” in the darkness with the “ghouls”. I enjoy watching people from near and far come and experience our display.  They give so much positive feedback, with comments like “this is the 10’th year we have come to visit”, “We plan our vacation around your display”, “Our family makes this a night out”. These make all the expense and work well worth it.  The display seems to make not only the kids happy and excited, but the adults as well all seem to really enjoy it.  If I can provide a fun “family” night out for kids to remember, I have done my job.

I enjoy being creative and working with my hands building things throughout the year.  Unlike other holidays, Halloween is much less commercialized and it is just good clean fun for everyone.  Our display is just that as well….good clean fun; it has no association with devil warship, religious undertones, or any other purpose except to entertain.  The building of the props, construction of the display, gatherings we attend, and the many friends in the haunting business we have gained has become a very enjoyable yet expensive hobby obsession…..

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Where is the display located?

We are located at 340 South Annandale Drive in Lake in the Hills, Illinois 60156.   We do have neighbors.  PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF THEM!  Keep noise down, respect their property, and place your trash where it belongs.

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What are your hours of operation?

This is a yard display which can be seen any time between early October and November 1st.  Though the display can be viewed any time, lights, special effects, animations, garage display, and other things run daily from dusk till about 9:30 p.m.  Friday and Saturday we run till 10:00 p.m. or slightly longer and may occasionally have actors.  All animated operation is weather permitting.  The entire display is operated on five or more separate circuits and is all timer controlled.  Please do not ask us to “turn it back on” for you.  We would love to, but it is not that easy.

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Where do you store all of this stuff?

In 2006 we broke down and started using off-site storage. We are now renting several units in excess of $2500/year. Some of the display is still stored in our attic, basement, shed, and even parts of the master bedroom's closet. Storage costs are honestly killing us, if we cannot find alternate arrangements, we may have to downsize, or give up this hobby.

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How many people visit?

Weekends bring the most visitors with some nights topping 1500 visitors.  The number of visitors has really grown.  In 2003 we had over 1200 signatures in our guest book and 700 trick-or-treaters (ToT's).  In 2004 we had over 1600 signatures.  We had over 839 confirmed individual ToT's on Halloween (but this only counts kids that made it to the door).  Signatures in our guestbook include people from as far as Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Florida, Canada, and other foreign countries.  Each year many people are repeat visitors that bring their friends.  Families make weekend outings to view the changes as the month progresses.  In 2005 we had over 800 ToT's, and well over 3000 visitors.   2006 brought over 3000 visitors on October 31st alone, with 800 actually making it to the door to get candy.  It is amazing how many don’t want the candy, they seem to trick-or-treat elsewhere, then come to hang out and see the display. In 2009 we had over 1300 TOT's, and just under 10,000 total visitors. 2012 brought close to 12,000. As you can tell the old "if you build it....they will come...." holds true!!!

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Where do you get everything? And how much does all of this cost?

We make almost all the props displayed at Haunt 31. All animations are built by us (except for the witch and the two vampires). Most tombstones, the fence, static props are all h31 creations. Total yard display is in the tens of thousands if it had to be replaced at retail.  Current estimate is around $85,000-90,000.   Most props are built by us using supplies available to everyone.  We average between $3000 and $5500 each year in new or revised items.  Because we make much of the display ourselves, cost is much less than retail, but still more than the average person would want to spend.   There are many expensive costs that are used to help run the display that are not actually seen by visitors. Laptops to program props, PLC's to control props, pneumatic parts, a commercial compressor for the pneumatic air requirements, a trailer to transport props to storage, tools, food for volunteers and actors, off-site storage, security cameras, paint, wood, cable ties, steel, candy, and many other items add up quickly to make this an expensive endeavor. We do accept donations, and collect scrap metal, which helps cover candy and a few of the incidentals, but we do not make any profit in this hobby.  That is not our goal. I would build new props and decorate even if only two people came to enjoy the display.  It is a huge feeling of accomplishment to build something and watch it work, and hear how happy it makes a family.

Please know Haunt 31 collects scrap metal to help off-set the cost of this hobby. Please consider us before tossing your metal items to the curb.

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When do you set-up/take-down?

We typically set-up the first weekend in October but are "staging" items for set up as early as late August/early September.  Take down is the immediately after Halloween.  These dates are flexible each year depending on weather.

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How long does it take to set-up?

In ‘09 we had over eight people working over seven 10 hour days.  We estimated easily 200-300 man hours this year just in set-up. After the initial set-up, we usually spend another 20-40 man hours tweaking, wiring, adjusting, repairing, or adding to the display.  In ‘09 we used over 500' of pneumatic air line, 500' of 24vdc low voltage cable, 1000' of extension cords, and bags and bags of cable ties.   All this hook up takes a bit of time.

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How can I help?

We get this question quite often.  You can help by visiting and enjoying our display as well as telling your friends.  Most important, you can help by keeping order and respecting our neighbors.  If you wish to do more, you can drop a donation in the box located under the guest-book or offer some of your time.  We are looking for some specific help too:

Help Wanted:     Late September/Early October we could use help with set-up, touch up painting, wiring, "go-for's", feeding the volunteers, etc. Later in October, Friday/Saturday nights get B-U-S-Y, We could always use help keeping an eye on things, helping with crowds, or just hanging out. In November, fixing broken things, touch up painting, transport to storage, and help repairing our yard. Spring, yard repair is greatly needed.

Landscaping – This is our biggest request!! After Halloween, we need help cutting the yard that hasn’t been cut for over two months, raking out the dead areas, picking up the hay, leaves, and debris, help with repair/re-seeding/re-sodding of the dead spots, raking mulch back into the beds, and general post Halloween clean-up.  We will add your company to our sponsor page and link to your website if you own a landscaping company and wish to help, but honest, a few hours just to help me is appreciated. In 2013 I spent over 12-hours in clean up and filled dozens of lawn bags in November. Then in the spring spent hundreds of dollars in seed, top soil, and supplies to fix the yard, plus countless hours again by myself. Please, send me a note, and offer an hour or two of your time.

Photography - We need your photos and videos.  Are you a professional video/photographer?  Let us know, I need GOOD pictures, and someone that knows how to put a video together each year. I am just not that creative, or have the time!!

Set-up/Take-down – We need help with set up.  This includes transporting props from storage, getting stuff from the attics, carrying props to/from the back yard, touch-up painting, and generally taking orders.  If you have basic electrical knowledge, it is a plus to help wire the display when we get to that point.  All props run off either 12 or 24vdc.  Take down includes repair of anything damaged, and carefully packing everything up so it will be in good shape for next year.

Building - Help with the building of props.  Believe it or not, we are building all season.  Typically weekends are spent woodworking, metalworking, and building.  Painting help is always needed.  THIS happens throughout the entire year.  Send me a message after December and find out our building schedule.

Donate - To help cover some of the extensive cost involved in this display.  Please understand, we are not trying to make money, just recover some of the cost.  If we were in it for the money, we would not be doing this!!  There is a donation box located under the guestbook each season, or we do accept Paypal donations.   E-mail for more information.  In 2013 Storage cost alone was over  $2500. Please know, Haunt 31 collects scrap metal to help off-set the cost of the display. Send us a message to arrange p/u, or drop off when you are in the area. WE TAKE ANYTHING. Email for more details.

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How much power does the display use?

Well, in '06 we ran power from five different circuits around the house which gave us almost 80 amps of available electricity.  By 2008, our electrical bill was nearly $200 in October. In 2008 we began changing the lighting over to LED's. 2009 completed the transformation pulling a TON of power out of the display. We upgraded the compressor to a 240vac which runs more efficient. We still use a BUNCH of power, but the changes and costs to run LED’s have made all the difference in the world.

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Do you do anything for Christmas?

Not as much, our budget is shot by then, but we usually put out 7-skeleton reindeer and a skeleton Santa display (Nightmare before x-mas type theme), along with a bunch of lights, and a few skeleton elves.

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Have you won any awards or received news coverage?

In 2007 we came in second place nation-wide in the www.fearnet.com best home haunts contest and had our display shown on the Today Show. Almost every year we are featured in one of the local papers, and have been seen on WGN-9, NBC-5, and ABC-7, among other places.

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For more information or to report any issues with this site, please contact us at: haunt31

 
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