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Welcome to Tanisylvania
Its never too early to start planning, and Richard LeFors, who has created a small-scale Halloween village that fills his two-car garage, should know.
Every fall, LeFors, who lives just off Cornelius Pass Road on the outskirts of Hillsboro, begins the lengthy process of setting up what he calls Tanisylvania. He starts assembling his macabre cityscape around Labor Day, and invests about 80 hours in setting it all up just right.
LeFors said his creation, which is named after Tanis, his wife of more than 20 years, first took shape about two decades ago when he bought a model called the Dead-End Motel.
I saw it in a Poulsbo, Wash., hobby store, and I liked it, he recalled. I took it home and put it on a card table, and then over the years started adding other pieces to it.
Every Halloween season, he set up his display, and pretty soon, Tanisylvania got big enough that he had to move it to the dining room table. After a while, even that was not large enough, so he kept adding card tables to allow the city to grow.
Eventually, however, his wife got tired of being without a dining room table for a couple weeks every October, so LeFors had to get even more creative.
Three years ago, I put it out in the garage, he said.
By then, he had three 4-feet by 8-feet tables covered with all manner of skeleton figures, ghouls and monsters, mist machines, organ music, dancing figures twirling about, buildings with colored lights and even two skeletons on a railroad hand-car moving back and forth on a short stretch of track. And at that point he realized how special Tanisylvania was.
I figured what the heck, Ill open up the garage on Halloween to let kids see it too, LeFors said.
Kids started coming to his house on Southwest Jay Street near Brown Middle School, but teens and adults came too.
We get all ages, said LeFors, who works as a sales and customer service rep for Jewett-Cameron in North Plains, a company that makes dog kennels, greenhouses, gates and tools. Adults like it, too. There was a funny thing this year a group of kids came in and wanted to see everything, and they were so excited they started to leave without getting candy.
I thought his display was amazing. You could really tell he put a lot of hard work, money and time into it, said Brandon Maldanado, a Century High School sophomore who lives nearby. I appreciate the work he did to make Halloween fun for the kids in his neighborhood.
LeFors lives on a relatively quiet street, but his display has been creating a buzz.
We almost had a traffic jam once; there were six cars out front, he laughed. Its just enjoyable and fun. Ive always had fun with it. I dont like things that jump out at you on Halloween. I think thats one reason kids like this. Its macabre and scary, but nothing jumps at you. Kids especially like the minions and zombies.
One of LeFors newest displays is a group of skiers and snowboarders on a snowy mountainside. Of course, all the individuals frolicking in the snow are skeletons.
I had a space I didnt know what to do with last year, and I woke up at 4 in the morning and dreamed up the ski area, he explained, adding that he calls the skier poised on a ski jump Fast Eddy.
And hes already cooking up new ideas for next Halloween.
I want to raise a section up to make a stair-step waterfall, he pointed out. I always wanted more flowing water and flowing features.
With his garage already filled, however, he realizes he wont be able to expand too much more.
It has probably evolved to where itll mostly be, although Ill put in different pieces, he said.
LeFors added that his garage display has become something of an annual tradition.
I already have a lot of kids coming back, LeFors said. As they get older, they remember it. Im sure Ill keep doing this for awhile longer. For me, its just a creative outlet Halloween is my holiday.
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