COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — Storybook Hollow is back for the 13th year.
As the legend goes, the fairy tale town is at peace 364 days a year. But on Halloween, a curse raises the villains from their graves to take their revenge.
This is the scene played out in front of Jennifer Dunahee's front lawn year after year for Halloween. Storybook Hollow is an epic, immersive haunted display families can walk through in the weeks around the holiday.
"A lot of the fairy tale origins are really quite dark," said Dunahee, "So, it’s fun to tap into that a little bit. It's just spooky enough that it doesn't seem baby-ish, but not too scary. We don't have actors jumping out at you. We don't have gore."
Eleven scenes make up the town in the yard, including Snow White buying a poisoned apple from the evil stepmother, Captain Hook's market place, and the the cabin where Hansel and Gretel meet the witch with a bakery.
"This is just a boring, four-bedroom ranch, beige, it couldn't be a more boring home," said Dunahee, "But then we cover it."
With the exception of just a few items, the display is handmade by Dunahee. She created the castle and many of the creatures using a type of foam used in set design, chicken wire, aluminum foil and more.
Her favorite part of the display — and the crowd's typical favorite — are the dragons. Her garage is transformed into the "Dragon Livery," featuring Frosty the dragon.
"He’s a mechanical puppet in a costume," said Dunahee, "So, that took five years trying to figure out how to do it."
The newest dragon, Serpentina, was featured in ArtPrize this year. It earned her a spot in the top five.
"I work on it year round," said Dunahee, "Our house is always full of things like that. When I was building Serpentina, it was when schools were closed. So, we were having Zoom school, Zoom dance class, all while moving various parts of this dragon all around the house to accommodate them."
The display is free to walk through. However, for the fourth year, she has partnered with the Humane Society of West Michigan. At the Storybook Hollow Library, aka her front porch, there is a donation box set up for the animals.
"We get lots of people coming out, and I thought we have potential to do something really cool for the community here," said Dunahee, "It helps when I’m working year round, and if I feel like, 'This is really silly I’m doing this then,' I remember really it’s not just for my artistic expression. It's doing something for the community."
At night, Storybook Hollow is lit up and has extra features. Although, Dunahee said she likes it better in the daytime. She has lots of smaller features and Easter eggs scattered throughout the display. Those include items like "princess detection peas," and "boycott Mrs. Lovett's pies" sign on the Good Witch Society's van.
"I kind of like people to feel like they've been somewhere magical," said Dunahee.
She typically leaves the display up through the first week of November, as people still stop by to check out the display.
And yes, she will be out there handing out candy on Halloween. She estimates they get up to 1,500 trick-or-treaters every year, which takes a lot of candy.
"I will fill a shopping cart," said Dunahee, "Then panic, and go back and buy more."
Halloween House 2021
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