Joliet couple open yard for Halloween haunt
BY FRANK VAISVILAS Correspondent October 25, 2013 7:48PM
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:37AM
JOLIET — Upon seeing the zombies and witches in the front yard of the Kuhajdas’ home, small children sometimes are hesitant to venture any farther.
At first, anyway.
“Five minutes later, they’re running up and down (the haunted yard) ... when they figure everybody’s coming out alive,” said Nancy Kuhajda, 52.
She and her husband, Mark Kuhajda, 54, open the yard of their home at 1112 Nicholson St. to the public every Halloween season.
Their attraction is part of a network of 29 home haunts listed by the Chicago Haunt Builders Club and organized by “blood factor.”
Nancy Kuhajda said many families make a day out of visiting several home haunts in the area. Three Plainfield home haunts and one in Lockport also are listed.
“Count Kuhajda’s Haunted Haus” attracts more than 1,000 visitors every year. Most people come on Halloween, but the Kuhajdas’ yard has been open evenings on weekends since Oct. 12.
Mark Kuhajda began elaborately decorating his yard for Halloween for a free public home haunt about 17 years ago and has added new haunted scenes every year.
“I’ve always liked Halloween, growing up and watching horror movies and going to haunted houses,” he said. “It’s always been my favorite holiday.”
He built many of his Halloween scenes out of materials such as wood, chicken wire and PVC pipes. Kuhajda also installed several speakers to broadcast voices and scary sounds.
Many of his 30 figures move via motors. He said each display costs up to $300 to build and he starts building new ones in January.
This year, he added a scene from the movie “Little Shop of Horrors.” Other scenes include a zombie vomiting into an oil barrel, a “head” shop and demons grilling body parts.
Many scenes have a comical factor to them, such as a skeleton bartender serving up drinks such as Johnny Walker Dead.
“People enjoy the funny stuff,” Mark Kuhajda said. “And they enjoy the details.”
For next year, Kuhajda already is mapping out other areas of his back yard where he can install more displays.
While the yard haunt walk-through is free to the public, the Kuhajdas do accept cash donations to benefit Critter Junction Animal Rescue, which is run by local radio disc jockey Freak and his wife.