Inside Look at Terror on Tillson: A Pure Michigan Halloween Experience


Year after year, visitors flock to a small neighborhood in Romeo to experience Terror on Tillson, one of Michigan's largest neighborhood-funded Halloween attractions!  Guest blogger Vicki Lee, a 35-year resident of Tillson Street shares a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating this undeniably unique All Hallow's Eve experience. 
 

House on Tillson Street
House on Tillson Street | Photo Courtesy of Chris Foran 


It's that time of the year again. A quaint street in the middle of the Historic Village of Romeo 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, 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 before October 31, 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.

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 onto the street (although many visitors think it is). Most of the time there are about 32 houses that do some type of display. This is a neighborhood that plays together, works together and watches out for each other. Some of my favorite memories from Halloween on Tillson Street are of neighbors spending 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 setups! 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.
 

Trick-or-treating on Tillson Street
Trick-or-treating on Tillson Street | Photo Courtesy of Chris Foran


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 into 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.

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.
 

Decorations on Tillson Street
Decorations on Tillson Street | Photo Courtesy of Tom Ross


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 to 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.