LOREN YOUNGGREN enjoys choosing punny names to put on headstones to display during Halloween. He likes to provide a fun scare during Halloween and is “always planning and scheming” new ideas. (Enterprise Photo by Anna Jauhola)
By Anna Jauhola
With a classic horror film playing on the TV in his garage, Loren Younggren began unpacking his extravaganza of Halloween decorations last week.
Skeletons, a zombie, Michael Myers, and more haunted Younggren’s work room as he began preparations for his seventh annual trail of terror.
“It’s kind of grown every year,” Younggren said and noted it started in 2011. “The number of trick-or-treaters has grown every year too. We get a lot of teens and adults that come each year.”
Younggren, who lives on a dead end on the north side of Hallock, said his monsters and decor are mostly made from PVC pipe and recycled materials like wood pallets. He has two large plastic tubs filled with Halloween masks that he cycles through every few years. At this point, he rarely buys new props.
Typically, he sets up his full scaring grounds the day of Halloween and tears down that night, but displays a few decorations throughout October. Anyone who drives by his home on the dead end of Douglas Avenue will see skeletons climbing his house.
“There aren’t many haunted houses in the area, so it’s become a novelty,” Younggren said. “We get a lot of people who pull up and don’t come in, or people who get in and won’t go back out.”
Trick-or-treaters can experience a “soft scare” early in the evening next Wednesday starting at 5 p.m. He takes the whole day off to decorate and prepare for the evening of fun. Younggren does not have live monsters on scene during daylight hours because he doesn’t want to terrify small children. He said most kids are pretty calm, but wide-eyed. However, he does experience a few who come in crying.
“I try not to pick on hysterical kids,” he said. “We’re not going to make anyone not like Halloween because it’s the best holiday of the year.”
But, once night falls, the gloves are off and everyone who stops by is fair game as several live monsters creep onto the property, strategically hiding among the stationary monsters. The path from the road to the back door is fairly dark, Younggren said, as the only street light is on the corner of Douglas and Second Street.
Visitor walk up the sidewalk through Younggren’s yard between the house and garage to wind their way up a ramp on their rear deck to get to the back door where Younggren’s wife, Jana, is the official counter and candy-giver.
“There’s lots of opportunities for distractions,” Younggren said. “If you don’t want to be chased or scared, don’t come after dark.”
Visitors who park on the street, beware. Younggren has also been known to randomly scare those too timid to enter the yard in the dark.
Last year, Jana counted 142 adults and children who visited their house. Younggren said they’ve had visitors from Stephen, Karlstad, Pembina and other area towns. Some neighbors reported 60 to 70 trick-or-treaters as a result of the popular location.
“Everyone in the neighborhood enjoys the action and the screaming,” Younggren said. “There’s lots of screaming.”
Two years ago, a group of teenage girls stopped by, finally made it into the house, but wouldn’t leave until they found another group to huddle in with.
Another girl came on her own but couldn’t make up her mind whether to enter the haunted yard.
“She went forward, then backed up,” Younggren said, adding all his live monsters stood still. “Then Keith Klegstad moved slightly and hit the gutter behind his foot, and she was outta there.”
Younggren and his monsters do not discriminate — he terrorized his own nephew one year.
“One of my nephews, as a grown adult, I scared him and he dropped right to his knees,” Younggren recalled, laughing. “It was hilarious because he wasn’t expecting me to be real. I just grabbed him.”
Some visitors are a little over-confident as they walk through and try to pick out the live monsters among the fakes.
“If you don’t scare ‘em going in, you nail ‘em coming out,” Younggren said. “They don’t think you’re real, so you stay in that same position.”
Some kids will stop by several times with different groups and think they’ve got the set-up figured out.
“Then we outsmart those kids,” Younggren laughed.
Younggren’s passion for fright is all in good fun. He said the people who come like being scared, whether it’s in the moment or after the fact.
“It gets people talking and excited about Halloween,” he said of his haunted yard. “It gives them something to look forward to … something fun and different every year.”
One skeleton pulls another out of its coffin to join the others in LOREN YOUNGGREN’S haunted yard.
(Enterprise Photo by Anna Jauhola)