An Inside Look at Terror on Tillson: Michigan’s Largest Neighborhood Funded Halloween Experience

Year after year, visitors flock to a small neighborhood in Romeo, MI to experience Terror on Tillson, one of Michigan’s largest neighborhood funded Halloween attractions!  Today, guest blogger Vicki Lee, a 34-year resident of Tillson Street shares a behind the scenes look at what goes into creating this undeniably unique All Hallow’s Eve experience. 

Photo by KDMac Photography

Photo by KDMac Photography

It’s that time of the year again. A quaint street in the middle of the Historic Village of Romeo, Michigan, transforms from a street lined with majestic maple trees and Historic homes, dating back to the late 1800’s, into a haunted habitat. Once a typical Halloween, with a few scarecrows and some pumpkins and 350 trick-or-treaters, has now evolved into a Halloween Extravaganza!

Trick-or-treat numbers have risen to about 2,000. Tens of thousands of visitors wander down the street during the last two weeks of October just to get a sight of all the hard work these neighbors put in to make this a memorable experience. Terror on Tillson Street provides a safe, family oriented Halloween experience at zero cost to visitors. The elaborate displays will be mostly completed the weekend of October 24th, although everyone decorates right up until Halloween. Trick or treating is only on October 31st from 6-8pm, but visitors are welcome to stop by and take a gander at the devilish displays beforehand.

Photo by Heather Monaghan

Photo by Heather Monaghan

Tillson Street is a little more than two blocks long. Most people decorate in some form or another, but it is not a requirement when you move on the street (although many visitors think it is). Most of the time there are about 32 house that do some type of display. This is a neighborhood that plays together, works together and watches out for each other…that’s how it all works. Some of my favorite memories from Halloween on Tillson Street are the times that the neighbors spend time together like one big family. We wind down at the end of the evening and chat about the friendly visitors who strolled through and highlights from the night’s events.

Throughout each weekend in October, you will see many neighbors walking from house to house, as help is always needed for some props that are too hard to put up yourself. It is an ongoing preparation for the big finale on Halloween. The neighbors work at their own speed. As most Michiganders know, unpredictable weather always has a way of interfering with our set ups! Most of us have “real” jobs, so you hope you have good weather on the weekends to accomplish everything that needs to happen.  Some tweaking is always going on right up to the time Trick-or-treaters start to arrive.

Photo courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

We always include family and friends in the festivities, which they all look forward to each year. Their help is always much appreciated! At my house, we now have the 4th generation of helpers. My mom, who is 81, pretty much does the supervision role these days, but in a way she started this with me, I was born on Halloween and she always puts a little more effort in the decorations for my sake.

I continued this with my own children and it has just grown from there. As younger families moved on the street, the bigger our Halloween has become. The creativity of this neighborhood is amazing with the majority of decorations being handmade. Many residents work on their decorations throughout the year, hoping to finish before the next Halloween.

Photo courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Everything is done by the residents of the street, their timeless hours and their enjoyment to do something very special for a free night out for the families is how this event has become what it is. We all hope everyone enjoys their visit to this one-of-a-kind neighborhood.

As my sons grew older and still wanted to be involved with the festivities, they created what is known as the “Bulldog Security” after Romeo High School’s mascot. Bulldog Security is a group of athletes from the high school that patrols the streets on Halloween night keeping an eye for trouble makers (not many to speak of) and lost children (maybe I should say lost parents). At one point these were just young teens wanting to be involved, now we have a few generations of athletes that help us out. Some of these young people come home from college just to be involved! The Village of Romeo has allowed Tillson Street to be blocked off on Halloween night for safety purposes during the 2 hour trick-or-treating time.

Photo courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

Photo courtesy of Catherine Povinelli

This year, Tillson Street has 3 special events that are included in our Halloween. One is the “Buzz Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund.” This was a fund that was started by my late husband with a golf outing to provide a vocational scholarship. When Buzz passed away from a brain tumor, my family and I decided to honor him in this wonderful scholarship that now provides not only a vocational scholarship, but also a pay-to-play scholarship and donations to the Wounded Warrior Project (Buzz was a Vietnam Veteran). We sell a limited edition “TILLSON STREET” Halloween shirt, hot cocoa and cider, can koozies and our very own Tillson Street Cookbook, put together by all the neighbors and friends. ALL proceeds go directly to the Scholarship Fund.

We also provide a special event for KKC, “Kids Kicking Cancer.” This will be our 5th year giving kids an afternoon of no worries and a huge amount of fun. We close the street for a couple of hours and the kids and their families come down the street to trick-or-treat. I’m really not sure who has more fun, my neighbors or the kids! This is an event that makes it all worth the hard we put in to the decorations! It has at times been a very emotional day for the neighborhood, but so, so rewarding!

Photo courtesy of Heather Monaghan

Photo courtesy of Heather Monaghan

If you’re planning to visit Tillson Street on Halloween this year, use these tips and information to make the most of your experience: 

-It’s best to walk and see everything, there will be bumper to bumper traffic, so it is very hard to see the displays in your vehicle.

-You never  have to wait in any line, although a line does seem to form during the evening, but that is not planned by anyone!

-Expect the walk to take you at least an hour to get through. There is parking on the street, but this usually hard to find.

-There are parking lots all around Tillson Street for a small donation, but are by no means associated with Tillson Street.

-Tillson Street is free of charge. The only things you might want to purchase are in the tent at 171 Tillson Street with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund.

Have you ever been to Halloween on Tillson Street? What did you think? 

A Ghoul’s Guide to Halloween 2014 in Pure Michigan

Halloween is nearly here! Whether you’re lost in a maze or getting scared at a haunt, there is plenty of Halloween fun happening across the state.  Here’s your guide to some ghoulishly fun (and family friendly!) Halloween events and attractions in Pure Michigan. Visit michigan.org full a full listing of Halloween events happening in October!

Corn Mazes are a fall staple in Michigan. Throughout the state, there’s winding paths with twists and turns that will test and confuse you as try to find the end. See below for some mazes to visit throughout the month of October!

BestMazeBestmaze Corn Maze– Williamston 
Every year, Bestmaze attempts to live up to its name. This year’s maze has a Castle & Dragon theme.  If you find your way out, there is a dragon you must defeat to exit the maze. (Remember there are towers so all you have to do is raise your hand if you need help!) Don’t let the theme fool you; this is a large maze designed for adults as well.

Amazing Acres Corn Maze – Edwardsburg
If you’re looking for fall family fun, make plans to visit the Amazing Acres Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch! The farm is over 90 acres and is packed with events for every member of the family, young or old. Explore the 14 acre corn maze with over 3.5 miles of paths. In addition to the corn maze itself, there are many other fun activities for the entire family at Amazing Acres that includes hayrides with horse-drawn and tractor-pulled, pumpkin patch, child-sized hay bale maze and more!

Houpt’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch – Dundee
Houpt’s offers a two acre corn maze, haunted corn maze, ten acres of U-Pick pumpkins, a Gourd Slinger, Craft Barn, and fresh cider & donuts! Don’t miss the weekend hayrides and the popular our “Kid’s Weekend” held the third weekend of October every year.

corn-maze-at-bestmazeJacob’s Corn Maze – Traverse City 
Life sized corn mazes are fun for everyone, young and old alike. Experience a world class computer-designed 10 acre Corn Maze creation, unlike any other in Northern Michigan. Jacob’s Secret Agent Adventure is an exciting and fully interactive farm experience. It will captivate and entertain you and your family for hours with its twists and turns. Jacob’s Corn Maze is larger than 10 high school football fields with over five miles of trails!

Lewis Farm Market & Petting Farm – New Era
There’s something for everyone at the Lewis Farm Market & Petting Farm! Visit the largest petting farm in west Michigan with over 60 animals including some exotics. Outdoor family entertainment: jumping pillows, climbing toys, corn maze, wagon rides, pedal carts, barrel train, fruit cannons, pumpkin chucker, animated chicken show and even a bee observatory.

Westview Orchards & Adventure Farm – Washington Township
Head to Washington Township to experience a 188-acre award-winning sesquicentennial family farm and orchard. Westview offers a five acre corn maze, cider mill, petting barns, wagon rides and more!

Gull Meadow Farms – Richland
Stop at Gull Meadow for fall fun with a corn maze, apple orchard, pumpkin patch and wagon rides! When you find your way out of the maze, take a wagon ride to the U-pick apple orchard to find that perfect and healthy treat!

Haunted Houses have one purpose – to scare you! Although some haunted houses are more tailored to be family friendly, Michigan boasts some of the most terrifying haunts around. Read below for some hellacious haunted houses to visit this fall.

ErebusDinosaurErebus Haunted Attraction – Pontiac 
Erebus, the four-story Haunted House located in Pontiac, was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Walk-through Haunted Attraction from Aug. 2005 – Sept. 2009. Erebus leads it’s victims through four stories of unique and terrifying paths with fear so intense some call it PAIN! Check out our Erebus blog to learn more – if you dare.

Niles Haunted House – Niles
The Niles Haunted House Scream Park has 44 acres of multiple haunted attractions, hayrides, games and concessions. It’s guaranteed to scare the YELL out of you. Check out their YouTube page for some extra frights!

Slaughtered at Sundown – Romeo 
This haunted house, located off a dirt road outside of society, adjacent to a corn field, is the perfect location for a haunted attraction. Enter a dark, winding illusion of decaying zombies, evil carnage, a spine chilling cemetery full of agony and torture.

Photo by Michelle Andonian Photography

Photo by Michelle Andonian Photography

Night Terrors – Ypsilanti
Beware! This is not your average haunted house! The acres of Wiard’s Orchards south of Ypsilanti Township are truly haunted. The history of these lands has lived in haunted houses of Michigan lore for centuries. Courageous souls who have dared to set foot on the haunted grounds of this old orchard say they can still hear the howling sounds of the night.

The Bone Yard – Stockbridge
Extreme haunted house, haunted woods, haunted corn maze, and haunted hayride. This attraction takes over an hour to enjoy and have the fear put into you. You’ll be led through twists and turns, terrified of what will come next. The Bone Yard is an indoor and outdoor event.

The Realm of Darkness – Pontiac
Realm of Darkness Haunted house is one of the scariest you can find! Manage your way through the horrors inside this house in an attempt to make your way out. Face the Wizard and get back double your admission price!

The Haunt

The Haunt – Grand Rapids
Welcome to your nightmare. The Haunt waits for you with a host of terror-filled experience in one 20,000 square-foot compound of fear. Chances are you’ll find your way out, but you won’t be the same. Holler your way through a half-mile of heart-pounding haunted hallways. Cringe through one horrifying theme after another. Stumble through Ghost Town, an outdoor maze in which your only guide is the moonlight. Dare to explore the shriek-inducing side attraction, “3-D Turmoil”. Not afraid of clowns? You will be.

Tee Lake Halloween – Lewiston
A Northern Michigan Haunted House & Halloween Attraction, Tee Lake Halloween offers three unique treats for Halloween fans & families. First, the Drive-Thru Haunt is a FREE, family friendly, self-guided tour through haunted displays. Tune your car radio to our spooky station to hear creepy music. No monsters will jump out at you. Second, Terror at Tee Lake is a terrifying walk-through haunted house open Oct. 25 and Nov. 1.Third, stay over in a haunted cabin – The Witch’s Cottage or Igor’s Hideaway.

For more Halloween-related events happening in Michigan, visit michigan.org. What are your favorite Halloween attractions? Share with us below!

Five Fun Ways to Celebrate “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan

Today, our guest blogger Lyndsay Israel from The Awesome Mitten shares some seasonally-inspired ways to celebrate “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan.

You may have noticed that we have hit the calendar jackpot for 2014!  Halloween on a Friday?  Does it get any better than that?  This year, plan your fall weekend celebrations right, including those leading up to the 31st- do, or see something new, take your kids somewhere fun, or win the prize at the Halloween party!  Check out these five ‘Fall-o-ween’ fun plans as you plot out the rest of your autumn months.

Fall Camping

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Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Yes, it’s already chilly, but you always sleep better when it’s cold out, right?  A lot of local campgrounds have adopted Halloween weekend events for their campers; these can include anything from a campsite decorating contest to a costume parade for the little campers!  Because the cold is unpredictable, many have moved this tradition to September, but call your favorite place and check.  I can at least point people to Harbor RV Resort in Monroe County, who celebrate Halloween weekly for all of October.  Head that way until the weekend of the 26th to check out their traditions.

Dress Locally

I always think of cool costumes at the most irrelevant times of the year.  If you share that curse, you forget your great ideas by the time you get your costume party invite.  What about going as a Michigan native?  Tim the Toolman Taylor (or Al, if you’re hairier), Kid Rock, Lucille Ball or Madonna all hail from the mitten state…and make for a fun costume.

Take a Drive

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Peak color is happening any minute now but since it started so fast I anticipate a slow disappearance of the leaves…I am not an autumn expert but this is my opinion.  Check out the beautiful Tunnel of Trees from Harbor Springs to Cross Village (on M-119) if you’re close enough, or just find a park near you to appreciate the foliage before it’s replaced by frost.

Get Scared!

Tis the season to get lost in a corn maze or chased by a man with a chainsaw.  If getting scared is your cup of tea, check out The Haunt in Grand Rapids or ride the Junction Valley Spook Train in Saginaw County!  Take a Twilight Walking Tour in Sault St. Marie or take a Marshall Carriage Co. Ghost tour through local cemeteries.  There are no shortage of creepy options in Michigan, and for more ghastly ghosts, check out parts one, two and three of haunted places in Michigan from The Awesome Mitten.

Decorate

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Photo by Lyndsay Israel

Decorating for Halloween can be a lot of work, but consider it a dry run for the winter holidays yet to come.  Even if you don’t transform your lawn into a spooky cemetery, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes can be transformed to showcase what your house holds dear.  For me, this means a giant football, but with a can of gold spray paint or black lacy tights, pumpkins can lend some class to your front porch.  Good old fashioned jack-o-lantern carving complete with a big candle to last the month is fun for the family, or decorate enough lanterns to line your driveway.  Use the neglected sand box to weigh down your paper bag lanterns, or send the kiddos on a scavenger hunt for rock weights.

For a comprehensive break down of fall fun in Michigan, check out michigan.org for a great list of even more Fall-o-ween to-dos. How are you celebrating “Fall-o-ween” in Pure Michigan this year?

Untitled1Lyndsay Israel is a life long Michigander currently in Traverse City. She has big ole soft spot for Grand Rapids, where she’s been the better part of the last decade.  Passions include writing about Michigan and Michigan craft beer. Future goals include making it through this Northern Michigan this winter, finishing her masters in secondary education at Grand Valley, owning a large dog, and reading as many books as she can.