Haunted Hollow open
Halloween display a scary destination
By Greg Seubert
Want to get scared for Halloween this year?
Kevin Maas, his family and friends are up to the challenge.
Maas has transformed the front of his rural Weyauwega home into Haunted Hollow for more than 20 years. This year is no different, as the popular Halloween attraction opened Oct. 9 and will stay open until Sunday, Oct. 31.
The display, at N3762 Maple Grove Road, includes several animated ghosts, goblins and classic horror movie characters. Anyone heading to the display can also expect a knock at their vehicle door.
“That’s what most people come here for,” Maas said. “They come here to get scared. There are lots of screams, of course. I’ve seen children crawl underneath the dash where you can’t even see them.”
Maas will wear a costume and roam Maple Grove Road, but he’s not the only one. He has help from friends, including Brian Starks, who has helped Maas set up and take down the display for about a decade.
“We’ll come out from the cornfield and walk up to the top of the hill,” Starks said. “I really like it when I scare the moms and dads, not just the kids. We climb right in the cars and scare them. It’s good family fun. We cater to everybody from the kids to the adults to the grandparents.”
“We’ve had as many as 17 out here at one time,” Maas said. “Sometimes, it’s down to four. It’s a little slower during the week, so we don’t need as many people.
“What I worry about is not having enough help to scare at night,” he added. “There are times when I don’t really know who’s coming and I think I’m going to be the only one out here. All of a sudden, I get three or four people show up and we’re ready to go.”
Scaring people in their vehicles started as soon as the first display opened in 1997.
“Nobody knew what to expect and now, most everybody does,” Maas said. “People bring other people and don’t tell them what’s going to go on. It’s fun scaring those people.”
COVID-19 changed last year’s experience.
“The only rule that changed last year was no crawling in cars, but the pandemic probably made our crowd double,” Maas said. “It was safe. Friends of ours made the comment that, ‘You guys had this social distancing figured out years ago.’”
Maas came up with an idea that turned into Haunted Hollow on a family hay ride more than 20 years ago.
“There was a haunted place out in the country by Manawa and while we were doing that, I decided that I would like to put my own stuff out,” he said. “After one of our hay rides, there was a car sitting in front of the house looking at my stuff and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to go scare that person?’ I started putting more and more out and it ballooned since then.
“If somebody would have told me it would end up like it is now, I would have never believed them,” he said. “People come from Milwaukee, Madison. I don’t think there’s anything like this around, at least in Wisconsin.”
Maas starts setting up the display in late September.
“I take a week of vacation and Brian stays here and helps me the whole week,” he said. “We get other people that come and help us get things set up. It’s a lot of work.”
This year’s version of Haunted Hollow opened Oct. 9 and will remain open through Sunday, Oct. 31.
“When I first started this, I was carrying everything into the attic,” Maas said. “I thought it would be neat to have a hearse and I could put everything in it and be done. Now, I have three moving vans and three hearses and I still don’t have enough room.”
Maas eventually encouraged Haunted Hollow visitors to drop off nonperishable items and monetary donations for the Waupaca Area Food Pantry and the Humane Society of Waupaca County.
He collected almost two tons of food one year.
“Last year, we started doing donations for the humane society,” he said. “That really took off. They’ll take cat food, dog food, kitty litter.”
Still going strong
Haunted Hollow’s hours are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weeknights, but later on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Our hours are until 10:30, but sometimes we go until midnight because cars are still lined up and we keep going,” Maas said.
Maple Grove Road is perfect for the display, according to Maas.
“It’s close to a main road,” he said. “I drive around the country and I don’t see many yards at all that I could do this in. I have 600 feet of road frontage. It’s a perfect setup.”
Don’t ask Maas how long he’ll keep the display going because he has no idea.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “About three years ago, I made the comment to my child that, ‘Well, I’ve been losing help and I can’t do it anymore.’ He started crying and I said, ‘I can’t stop now.’”
Maas’ wife, Liza, and their 12-year-old son, Bryce, are also involved with the display.
“The way I look at it, there’s no limit to what you can do with Halloween,” he said. “With Christmas, you have Santa Claus and snowmen. I told my wife that I was going to put up a haunted Christmas display and she said, ‘Absolutely not.’”