Gallery of Ghoulish Homes Tour Opens Oct. 15
For families participating in the St. Charles Park District’s Gallery of Ghoulish Homes Tour, Halloween is not just a day to go trick-or-treating. It’s a serious passion.
Participants begin planning for the Ghoulish Home Tour months in advance to create, build and decorate haunted scenes throughout their properties, complete with animatronics, lighting effects, music, fog machines and interactive displays, some even include haunted trails and tents to tour – if you dare. The Park District even has a Facebook page dedicated to the event – and a few families have created Facebook pages dedicated to their own house with all its haunting and spooktacular fun.
Back this year will be live actors to roam as zombies, ghouls and ghosts throughout the yards, adding a touch of drama to the creepy scenes.
In its 21st year, the Gallery of Ghoulish Homes Tour lures hundreds of families out nightly to visit about 25 homes from dusk to 10 p.m. Opening night is Oct. 15, and the tour runs through Oct. 31. Judge’s night is Oct. 16.
It’s not too late to sign-up. Registration is open until Oct. 13, and participants can choose to compete in one of the following award categories: Best Actors (1-6 ghouls); Best Actors (7 or more ghouls); Best Rookie; Craftiest Creeper; Best Use of Technology; Eeriest Haunt (without actors); and Family Fun. Awards also will be given for Judge’s Favorite and People’s Choice.
A Scary Tradition
While the recognition is nice, families agree the reason they participate goes beyond the awards.
“We love the holiday and have so much fun doing it as a family,” said Danielle Sumoski, whose family of four has transformed their property on Hemlock Drive into the “Sumoski Erie Acre” for 11 years now.
“We love to win, but we love making fun memories and sharing our passion for Halloween with the next generation,” Sumoski said.
Susanna and Joseph Vitale couldn’t agree more. For 15 years they have created spooky displays at their house in the Harvest Hills subdivision.
“To us, it’s like celebrating a major holiday,” said Susanna Vitale. “We’ve been doing this for so long, there are adults who visited as kids who are now bringing their children to see our haunt. Creating a family tradition like that makes it all worth it.”
The Sumoskis and Vitales are not alone in their Ghoulish Home Tour addiction. Many returning participants were hooked from the first year.
Mandy and Bill Isaacson first entered in 2016. “To hear all the laughing and screaming from visitors was truly amazing and we knew then that we had to keep doing this,” said Mandy Isaacson.
To Scare or Not to Scare
The Isaacson house on Osage Drive will include a haunted trail and tents, their “signature graveyard” and popcorn for visitors at the end “to help people recover,” Isaacson said. They also plan to include live actors on opening weekend.
Geared toward visitors who want to be scared, each year the Isaacsons change up the displays. “There will always be new scenes and scares, hopefully to keep everyone on their toes,” Isaacson added.
Catering to the family friendly crowd, Jen and Jason Rose have decorated their home in the Timbers neighborhood since 2017. “We love animatronics. We try to stay away from the gore and just make it spooky,” Jen Rose said.
Located on a corner lot, they take advantage of decorating all three sides of their house which includes a haunted woods walk, built by their two sons. On judge’s night this year, the Batavia Academy of Dance will perform.
The Sumoski’s house meets families at their scare level, providing scary and non-scary haunted trail options. Live “ghouls”, the infamous farm, stockyard, voodoo swamp and graveyard will all be returning this year. But visitors will have to see the new features this year for themselves. “We don’t want to ruin the surprise!” Danielle Sumoski said.
Tour guides will be available Oct. 15 at www.stcparks.org/halloweenfun