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The family that scares together...
Beyond the graveyard in the front yard, the orange lights and the spooky entrance way, one of the things you might notice as you approach the Schlegel house on Williams Avenue North are the dried leaves adding atmosphere and crunch to the scene.
While not that unusual to see drying leaves on the ground at this time of year, it does seem odd when you consider that the Schlegels do not have any trees.
But bringing in bags and bags of leaves to add to the effect is just an example of how far the family will go to set the mood for a good scare.
“I have always been a huge Halloween fan,” says Todd Schlegel, adding that horror movies have always been his favorites.
This year, Todd and his wife Christy have turned their North Renton home into a haunted house that will be open to all on Halloween night.
The idea, according to Todd, is to give kids “something a little more than just getting candy.”
Along with the elaborate graveyard out front, the Schlegels have created a series of 10 vignettes for inside and behind their home that trick-or-treaters will have to negotiate to get candy.
Each room of the house is presently covered with trash bags and spider webs and on the big night they will be transformed into various scary themes, from zombies, conjuring and scary clowns to rooms based on classic horror movies such as “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
This is the second time the family has turned their home into a haunted house. Two years ago, on what was essentially a whim two weeks before the big day, Todd suggested that instead of just turning the family’s carport into a haunt, the whole house be utilized.
Initially, Christy balked; but being an interior designer, her creative impulses soon took over and the next thing they knew, the whole house was haunted for the holiday.
“This fills that creative void,” said Christy, who no longer works in design but instead owns Rain and Shine Pet Care with Todd out of their home. “I get to create something.”
And while most interior designers do not work in trash bags and spider webs, the Schlegel home is fully spooked out from floor to ceiling.
“I feel like I missed my calling in life,” Christy says with a laugh.
More than 250 people visited the house that year. Last year, the couple decided not to host the haunted house because of the work involved the previous year.
“I was prying out staples and still scraping dried fake blood off my walls nine months after the last time!” Christy says.
But as fall approached this season, Todd’s thoughts again turned to the haunt and the family decided to go for it again this season.
Todd said he wants to bring Halloween back to a good, old-fashioned scarefest and away from the candy-based holiday he sees today.
“It feels like the stuff we grew up with,” says Christy of the family’s October experiences.
This year, work on the house began Oct. 1. It will wrap up with all of the furniture being pulled out on the big night to make way for kids.
So far, more than 30 friends and neighbors have agreed to play roles at the haunted house. Christy said it wasn’t too difficult to get friends to dress up and play along.
“We were like ‘Do you want to scare some kids?’ and people were like ‘Yeah!’” she said with a laugh.
Along with neighbors, the whole family gets in on the act with the couple’s three kids, Mira, 9, Mason, 7 and Memphis, 3, all playing roles.
Mira will be featured in the family’s living room and is all ready for her big role.
“It’s awesome fun,” she said. “My favorite part is when I get the teenage boys to cry.”
The house will be free and open to the public on Halloween night, though anyone going through will have to sign a waiver. The couple is also asking that people bring donations of pet food (cans, bags, treats, etc.) that they said will be donated to the Humane Society, where the couple got all three of their dogs (who will be safe in a neighbor’s yard on Halloween). The donation is not necessary – the Schlegels are in it for the fun – but requested.
For Todd and Christy, the hope is that their children will remember these experiences their whole lives and potentially carry it on with their families.
“I hope they continue this tradition when they have kids,” Christy said.
This story has been corrected. In the print version, the name of the Schlegel's business was incorrectly listed. It has been fixed for the web.