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!

From Our Fans: 10 Breathtaking Fall Color Drives to Experience this Season

The sun is shining. A cool autumn breeze sweeps gently through your hair. And you have plenty of daylight to enjoy a quintessential fall jaunt through the back roads of Pure Michigan. What could be better! If this scenario sounds like a seasonal dream come true, hop in the car, buckle up and head in any direction you please. Use these ten fall color road trips as your guide (and the photos for inspiration)! 

Traverse City – Northport – Frankfort
The Traverse City-Northport-Frankfort areas are ablaze with autumn hues!  As you drive through more than 250 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, make some time for a stop at Mission Point Lighthouse or Point Betsie.

Photo by Jesse Barcega - Bowers Harbor Park on Old Mission Peninsula

Photo by Jesse Barcega – Bowers Harbor Park on Old Mission Peninsula

Oscoda – West Branch – Tawas City
This Michigan Sunrise Side fall color tour includes a scenic drive along Lake Huron. You won’t be disappointed with a stop to breathe in the fresh autumn air on the River Road Scenic Byway along the Au Sable River.

Photo by Phil Overbeeke - River Road Scenic Byway

Photo by Phil Overbeeke – River Road Scenic Byway

Flint – Brighton – Bloomfield Hills
Fall color in East Central and Southeastern Michigan peaks in October. Recharge with a stop for cider and donuts at Diehl’s Orchard and Cider Mill, Spicer’s or the Historic Grist Mill.

Photo by Shannon Hartman - Holly, MI

Photo by Shannon Hartman – Holly, MI

Pentwater – White Cloud – Muskegon
Rolling wooded hillsides, orchards with ripe apples and beautiful vistas of Lake Michigan are a part of this West Michigan tour. Pull over and take in the scenery at Muskegon State Park, Charles Mears State Park or  P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.

Photo by Louise Olson - Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Photo by Louise Olson – Silver Lake Sand Dunes

New Buffalo – St. Joseph – Benton Harbor – Paw Paw
This Southwestern Michigan tour features cider mills, u-pick farms, roadside markets, wineries and quiet hiking trails as you travel. Why not stop to taste autumn’s harvest at Warner Vineyards Winery, Round Barn Winery Tasting Room or Karma Vista Vineyards and Winery?

Photo by Tanya Pradon - Paw Paw Lake, Coloma Township

Photo by Tanya Pradon – Paw Paw Lake, Coloma Township

Mackinaw City – Petoskey – Charlevoix
Forested countryside and charming resort towns are nestled along the sparkling blue waters of Lake Michigan in this neck of the woods. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is a must-visit on this color drive.

Photo by Annette Robidoux - Petoskey, MI

Photo by Annette Robidoux – Petoskey, MI

Houghton – Eagle River – Copper Harbor
Michigan’s fall colors come first to the trees of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the state’s northernmost point. Amidst the stunning display of reds, oranges and golds, take some time to explore Michigan’s historic mining industry at the Quincy or Delaware Mine.

Photo by Clayton Adams - Copper Harbor

Photo by Clayton Adams – Copper Harbor

Munising – Newberry – Grand Marais
Mother Nature’s paintbrush gets a workout in Michigan each autumn.  Her fall palette washes over the Munising – Newberry – Grand Marais area, making a stop at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore or Tahquamemon Falls an integral part of this fall tour.

Photo by Judy Kniaz - Munising, MI

Photo by Judy Kniaz – Munising, MI

Menominee – Escanaba – Manistique
If you’re looking for fabulous fall color, look no further than the Menominee-Escanaba-Manistique area! Not to be missed along the way is Kitch-iti-kipi at Palms Book State Park. The largest freshwater spring in the state measures 200 feet across and 40 feet deep, with more than 10,000 gallons of clear water gushing each minute.

Photo by Jim Brannstrom - Nahma Township

Photo by Jim Brannstrom – Nahma Township

[Insert Your Hometown Here]
You don’t need to drive far to find fabulous fall foliage in Pure Michigan. Take a trip down Main St., head to a local park, or just gaze out your window!

Photo by John Walbridge

Photo by John Walbridge

Have you taken a fall color tour this season? Tell us about your trip. Visit michigan.org/fall for more ideas on Pure Michigan fall getaways.