There are plenty of fun activities and haunted houses for kids to visit this Halloween. Check out this one here. The Mysterious Mansion at Windrush Village Apartments clubhouse promises visitors a few minutes of screaming good fun.
When he was a child growing up in Daytona Beach, Tyler Telander was afraid of "haunted" houses on Halloween.
He disn't care for those bowls filled with squishy grapes - which he was told were eyeballs. And he certainly didn't like the ones filled with spaghetti.
Although he was afraid of them as a kid, Telander discovered something about haunted houses the year he helped construct one for his church.
"It's a lot more fun when you put one together," say Telander, who works as evening supervisor of the X-ray department at Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center.
It was so much fun that Telander has taken two weeks of vacation each year for the past 16 years to bring the Mysterious Mansion at the clubhouse of Windrush Village Apartments to life.
Telander has used the Mysterious Mansion s a money-raiser for UNICEF, the United Nations Childrens Fund.
Children have been trick-or-treating for UNICEF for 44 years. And UNICEF encourages other types of money-raisers, such as the Mysterious Mansion.
In the past 16 years, Telander estimates hes raised $10,000 for UNICEF, with $1,900 of that coming in last year. Money UNICEF raises goes to programs to help children in 135 countries throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America, Middle East and eastern central europe.
Visitors to the Mysterious Mansion, which will be open from 7p.m. to midnight Friday through Monday, will not have their hands stuck in a bowl of grapes or spaghetti.
But to the sounds of raging thunderstorns and the music from the movie "Beetlejuice ," they will see plenty of things to give them a good fright.
There'll be Gomez the Dinosaur, which Tyler built with friend Jefferson Slosek last year. Gomez bends and turns and his eyes light up. "Most important," says Tyler, "his jaws open and close."
Also on hand will be Mugwump the Moss Monster and plenty of other costumed spooks Herman Munster and Granpa, Dracula, Freddy Krueger, and a witch or two.
And although the Mysteroious Mansion is in a clubhouse, there seens to be plenty of room for a ghost ship, a maze and a haunted forest. New this year will be a simulated elevator devised by Slosek.
Last year about 500 people visited the Mansion.
"Our favorite groups are 12 year-old girls in terms of reacting to what we do," says Telander. Unlike boys who try to be brave, he says, the girls scream with abandon.
"They are good screams, fun screams," says Telander with a laugh. "We feed on that kind of energy. We like to hear then screaming in delight."
Telander, however, does not like to hear any children crying. And that is apt to happen if children are very young.
"Up until they are age 8, they may not be ready," says Telander. "Just the darkness alone can scare them. Add music and things jumping out, and it makes it more frigntening. "But he adds, "some 6 and 7-year olds might be able to brave the Mysterious Mansion. These days, with all they watch on TV, they might not be too scared."
This week will be busy for Telander and his loyal crew of friends. It takes four to five days to assemble the Mysterious Mansion.
If you want to visit the Mysterious Mansion, this might be the last year Telander puts it on. He and his wife, Nancy, who joins in the fun dressing up as a witch, are expecting their second child.
"It wears me out," Telander admits about his Halloween project. "I want to take vacaion time with my family."
The Mysterious Mansion will be set up at the Windrush Village Apartments on east Park Avenue, half a mile east of Governor's Square Mall. The Mansion will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight, Friday through Monday. Admission is $3.00