October 30, 2010

Some people go all out to celebrate Halloween

Every other Halloween, Doug and Terri Wenzel's home off George Washington Boulevard is transformed into a house of horrors.

Every other Halloween, Doug and Terri Wenzel's home off George Washington Boulevard is transformed into a house of horrors.

In the garage, an electric chair named "Sparky II" smokes and vibrates when you pull its handle. Frankenstein's monster lies on a table under the weight of chains, a glowing, oozing, bubbling laboratory behind him. In the basement, the possessed girl from "The Exorcist" spins her head.

This is the stuff of Doug Wenzel's imagination, and his wife loves all of it.

The Wenzels are people who go all out for Halloween.

Since 1981, they've invited friends to their home every other year for a big Halloween party with enough gory props to put some haunted houses to shame.

Tonight is their party.

He's not an engineer or electrician or artist, but Doug Wenzel makes most everything on display at the party with his own hand and mind. He gets beakers filled with water to glow green and orange by dipping highlighters into them. He uses a record player turntable to mechanize a witch stirring brew in a cauldron.

Are you an engineer, a visitor asks.

"No, I'm just a cheapskate," he answers.

"He can make something out of nothing," his wife says. "He has a demented mind."

The Wenzels' home is just one of hundreds in the area where Halloween reigns.

James McGreevy has helped his sister, Janice McGreevy, decorate her yard in northwest Wichita for 22 years.

He also makes most of the decorations, preferring a homemade look to decorations that are mass-produced.

A haunted cemetery greets trick-or-treaters as well, as do classic monsters such as Dracula and Frankenstein.

"I'm not big into the gory, bloody stuff," James McGreevy said.

His sister decorates inside the house for a party with a few family members and close friends. He focuses on the big front yard, which she's loaned him since 1988.

McGreevy likes to use the Internet to research how to bring ghouls and goblins to life.

"Some of the stuff people do is just crazy and amazing," he said.

David and Sonja Alseike are in their second year of Halloween fun on Wichita's most famous trick-or-treating street, Broadview in College Hill.

Their front yard is a scene right out of "The Wizard of Oz," complete with the Yellow Brick Road.

A tornado fashioned from fabric-covered chicken wire threatens a little house, and tonight and Sunday, Dorothy, Glinda the Good Witch, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow will greet guests. The Wizard himself may make an appearance this weekend.

New this year is a hot-air balloon.

Dress rehearsal is at 6 p.m. today, and performances Sunday will start at 5 p.m. Decorating for Halloween is a big task, as is providing enough candy for all of the children who will converge on Broadview this weekend. The Alseikes said they spent about $700 last year on candy and had about 4,000 trick-or-treaters, give or take a few ghosts and goblins.

"This year it's been a three-month adventure," Sonja Alseike said. "We start buying candy in June."

Related content