Imlay house a must for trick-or-treaters
Family transforms home into seasonal attraction
|Jessica Storey, 18, hopes this ghoulish visitor doesn’t have the same frightening effect on little kids that he has on her. He’s just one of many ghouls and monsters who come out on Halloween night at the family home on Fairview. photo by Tom Wearing.|
October 24, 2007IMLAY CITY — Nobody can accuse the Storey family of not getting into the spirit of the season.
For as many years as a lot of local youngsters and parents can remember, Jeff and Kitty Storey have turned their home into frighteningly-awesome Halloween displays.
It was in October 2000 that the family created its first display at their former home on Second Street. Since moving to 792 Fairview, the display has grown and become an increasingly popular attraction for trick-or-treaters and passersby.
It's not just the visual impression the Storey house makes that keeps people coming back—it's the fun-filled atmosphere and candy-filled treat bags the family serves up to each and every beggar on Halloween night.
Last year, Jeff, Kitty and daughter Jessica Storey, along with other family members, gathered about a week before the big night to fill 800 treat bags. By the time the last trick-or-treater went home on Oct. 31, 2006, the Storeys had given out 788 of the goodie bags.
While Kitty Storey is always ready to offer moral support, she claims it's Jeff and Jessica, 18, who keep the holiday tradition alive.
"I help out by painting some of the tombstones, but it's the two of them who do all the planning and work putting this together," says Kitty. "If it was up to me, we'd probably just have a couple lighted pumpkins."
Jeff admits to having a preoccupation with the Halloween season, spending many hours each year in search of new pieces to add to the display.
His diligence paid off a few years ago when he spotted an old hearse parked out in a farmer's field near Lansing.
"I stopped and asked him if he'd be willing to sell it, and he said to make him an offer," recalls Jeff. "Now, here it sits."
Jeff's commitment to the project is evidenced by the lengths he goes to further enhance the display. He points to his various gizmos and gadgets that include sound effects, buzzers, pumps, red Kool-Aid spewing from the necks of headless corpses, and the life-size monster dummies whose moving parts come alive on Halloween night.
"I started putting it up when the kids were little and every year it just keeps getting bigger and bigger," says Jeff. "It takes a good two weeks to set everything up. I take a week off work to be around at Halloween and to keep an eye on things.
"I get a lot of pleasure from watching the looks on the kid's faces," he says. "A lot of adults get a big kick out of it, too. A lot of them seem to be scared, themselves. They won't walk all the way up—they stay out by the sidewalk."
"It's all about being a kid again," Kitty chimes in. "I'm usually terrified of scary movies and stuff, but Jeff is obsessed with it—and now our daughter is too."
|Jeff Storey (right) hopes this unsavory character doesn’t want a ride to the cemetery in his hearse. photo by Tom Wearing.|
Jeff stresses that the display is intended to be good fun and the family has yet to hear a complaint from neighbors or the community at large.
"As soon as we start setting up, we start getting a lot more traffic coming down this street," he says.
"We have a lot of positive response from people," adds Kitty. "The school bus drivers make special trips down Fairview so the kids can see the display. We get a lot of people taking pictures out here with their kids. It's actually kind of flattering."
But the Storeys have little time for self-admiration. With the big night rapidly approaching, the family still has lots to do and little time to waste.
"And there's all those treat bags to fill," says Kitty.