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? 

Pure Michigan 2013 Halloween Events Roundup

Halloween is fast approaching! Whether you’re dressed as a ghoul or a goblin, there is plenty of Halloween fun happening across the state. From haunted houses to family-friendly parades, below is your guide to celebrating Halloween in Pure Michigan. Visit michigan.org full a full listing of Halloween events happening around the state!

Amazing Acres Corn Maze
September 14 – October 31, 2013, Edwardsburg
If you’re looking for fun, family entertainment in Cass County, Michigan, make plans to visit the Amazing Acres Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch this Fall! 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. Keep a watchful eye for the 12 hidden check points. The Maze is available both day and night. 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 haybale maze, thousands of pumpkins and holiday decorations, a goat walk and farms animals. Picnic area, snacks and refreshment stand, campfires available by reservation, face painting, hay jump, two straw mazes and two corn boxes. Located at 18430 US 12 East; Edwardsburg, MI 49112. Open Tuesday thru Friday 4pm to 9pm and Saturday & Sunday noon to 9pm. For more information, click the website link or call (574) 370-3403.

Niles Haunted House
September 13 – November 2, 2013, 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. Visit the web site for dates, times, coupon, and admission prices. Niles Haunted House Scream Park is located at 855 Mayflower Road; Niles, MI 49120. Phone for details at (269) 687-FEAR or visit the website. 

Corn Maze at BestMaze
September 13 – October 27, 2013, Williamston
The Corn Maze at BestMaze is great fun for the entire family on weekends from September 13th to October 27. Nineteen acre Corn Maze hours are Fri. 6-10pm; Saturdays 1-10pm, and Sundays 1-9pm. Tickets $8. The BestMaze Corn Maze is located at 3803 Noble Rd; Williamston, Michigan 48895.

Houpt’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch
September 21 – October 31, 2013, Dundee
We have a two acre corn maze, ten acres of U-Pick pumpkins, a Gourd Slinger, Craft Barn, and cider & donuts. We have hayrides on weekends, weather permitting. Offer field trips to groups. A huge favorite is our “Kid’s Weekend” held the third weekend of October every year. Both days of that weekend we have a clown for a couple of hours, a costume contest, and rides all day. We always have the following activities for free, Kid’s Haunted House, Petting Farm and Miniature Golf. Open daily, 10am to dusk. Located at Houpt’s Pumpkin Patch at 19929 Tecumseh Rd; Dundee, Michigan 48131. (Just five miles west of Dundee and Cabela’s on M-50.)

The Bone Yard Scream Park
September 21 – November 2, 2013, 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. This is an indoor and outdoor event, please dress accordingly. Scream Park located at 5010 Green Road; Stockbridge, Michigan 49285, just west of Hell. Friday and Saturday, open at 8pm. For more information, visit the website.

Tee Lake Halloween
September 27 – November 2, 2013, Lewiston
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. Nightly September 27 – November 2, dusk – 10pm. Admission is free. Second, Terror at Tee Lake is a terrifying walk-through haunted house open October 19, 25, 26, and November 1 from 7-10pm, with an admission of $5. Third, stay over in a haunted cabin – The Witch’s Cottage or Igor’s Hideaway. For more information, visit the website.

Scream Machine
September 27 – November 2, 2013, Taylor
The Scream Machine is back with new special effects and scares for the 2013 season. Back by popular demand–the Hellevator. This portal to the unknown takes you to the depths of your worst fears where nightmares and reality collide. Open September 27-29, October 4-6, 11-13, 18-November 2. For hours and admission, click the website link or call (734) 309-0756. Coupon for $3 off found at website. Located at 21207 Eureka Rd; Taylor, Michigan (in the shopping plaza next to Gibralter Trade Center).

Shawhaven Haunted Farm
September 27 – November 2, 2013, Mason
Fear surrounds the Farm. All 140 acres have been lost onto a haze of despair, since the dark years when the crops and animals were lost to a devastating invasion of bugs. Fear had engulfed all the grounds. Local people have tried to face their fears on the Wagons of Fear. Some exit safely and unchanged only to be lost into the darkness of despair with time. Others try to make the trip through the Dead Maze to the next town only to join the Zombies that linger within the corn. Fee. We also offer an unhaunted corn maze. Open Fridays and Saturdays, September 27 to November 2. Open Thursday, October 31. Kids matinee tour Sunday, October 13. Shawhaven Haunted Farm located at 1826 Rolfe Road; Mason, Michigan 48854. For admission prices or more information, visit the website link or call (517) 676-1649.

Psycho Ward & Nightmares Haunted House
October 4 – October 31, 2013, Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo Speedway. Experience West Michigan’s most terrifying haunted attraction this October–if you dare! Many have experienced the terror of Floyd Cranston and his clan of twisted misfits. Their reign of terror has been inflicted on Psycho Ward visitors for more than a decade. Some have survived—but not without years of intensive therapy. What disturbing twist on Floyd’s unique form of horror does he have in store for you this year? There’s only one way to find out. Not recommended for children under 12 or the faint of heart. Open weekends in October: October 4, 5, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 , 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 (open 7:30pm each night). Admission fee.

Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village
October 11 – October 27, 2013, Dearborn
The Henry Ford. Step back in time to a turn-of-the-20th century Hallowe’en. Follow an endless path of hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns, and meet colorful characters along the way. Feel the whoosh as the Headless Horseman rides by, banter with a clever witch and make stops at several treat stations spread throughout Greenfield Village. It’s frightfully fun for the whole family! For information call (313) 982-6001.

Pumpkin, Cider & Donut Wagon Ride
October 12 – October 27, 2013, Ray
Take a wagon ride with a guide to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect Halloween pumpkin, then stop for a cup of cider and a donut. This year, take a walk from the pumpkin patch to the farm’s 5-acre corn maze. Then, get into the Halloween spirit by visiting the Boo Barn. Wagon rides 11am – 4pm (Oct. 12-13, 20, 26 & 27). Pumpkins are priced according to size. Fee for wagon ride. Additional activities on specific dates for additional fee. For information call (586) 752-5932.

Haunted Horrors
October 18 – October 27, 2013, Armada
Blakes Big Apple has four attractions for 2013—Nighttime Spooky Hayride, three story Haunted Barn, Spookyland, and Zombie Paintball Safari. Open every Fri, Sat & Sun nights in October. For rates, hours, or more information, click on the website link or call (586) 784-9710.

Haunted Hayrides
October 25 – October 26, 2013, Suttons Bay
Black Star Farms Tasting Room & Inn. Miles of wooded trails, old barns and a bonfire area make the farm in Suttons Bay a perfect venue for haunted hayrides. Participants board a wagon that takes them into the dark woods and old orchards on the farm. The trail rides are approximately 10-15 minutes long and are $10 per person. Due to the subject matter of the scenes and the surprises lurking in the woods the rides are recommended for those 12 years and older as well as individuals who appreciates a good scream. Rides begin (7pm) and end (9:30pm) at the Hearth & Vine Café where ghostly refreshments, warm cider and wine will be served.

Halloween Spooktacular
October 26, 2013, Gaylord
Treetops Resort. Join us as we celebrate Fall. Treetops will feature wagon rides followed by a chairlift ride. Activity and game stations with trick or treating for the kids. Minimal fee applicable for activities. Public welcome to enjoy our holiday celebration.

The Legend of Sleepy Howell
October 26, 2013, Howell
Come to downtown Howell and experience the 11th annual Legend of Sleepy Howell from 5pm – 9pm. Activities include trick or treating at candy stations, business booths offering giveaways, games and prizes, costume contests, live music, hay rides, creepy campfires, a hay maze, food vendors and the 5k/10k Headless Horseman Run. Don’t miss the scary fun in downtown Howell – this event happens despite the fall weather.

For more Halloween-related events happening in your neighborhood, visit michigan.org. How will you be showing your Halloween spirit this year? Share with us below!