This Viral ‘Stranger Things’ Halloween House in Suburban Chicago Nearly Got Shut Down. Here’s How to See it – NBC Chicago
It all started with a TikTok video.
Homeowners Dave and Aubrey Appel in suburban Plainfield have been putting together this year’s décor for months, but it wasn’t until their TikTok showing a floating Max Mayfield from the hit Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’ in the middle of their driveway that things really started to take off
For those driving by, it’s pretty hard not to notice, but what you haven’t seen in the viral clips is the other part of their yard.
“We don’t just have ‘Stranger Things.’ We have killer clowns, pennywise, pet cemeteries, we have Alien, we have Predator… references,” Dave told NBC Chicago in a recent interview. “And the people can pick them out and call them out – that’s amazing. So much fun… because we hide them. We love Easter eggs and horror movies and all that stuff. So our one side of our yard is all ‘Stranger Things,’ the other side is every pop culture horror film that we basically could fit in there that looks peaceful.”
Social media can’t get enough of the epic “Stranger Things”-themed décor spotted in the Chicago suburb.
The popular display launched earlier this month, with the couple saying they do it for the “scares, smiles, laughs, joy” and love of horror.
However, last week, it was nearly shut down.
The abrupt closures initially stemmed from an issue with a neighbor who the Appels said began “threatening families and patrons with a baseball bat” during their first weekend open last weekend.
The family wrote that their neighbor called the police over safety concerns and the family ultimately shut down their setup early Sunday, planning to tear down the next day.
But thanks to the support from fans and other community members, they chose to continue their fight, which led to a safety meeting with Plainfield and Joliet officials at City Hall.
“We’ve always come by and seen the display – I’ve never had a problem with it,” said neighbor Nick Durna. “We think it’s a really great thing they do. So this year, it’s just a little strange it got out of hand.”
The Appels said they had addressed their Halloween plans with neighbors to get permission before building their setup.
“We wanted to make sure it was OK because we sort of assumed that it was going to be a little bit busier this year than normal,” Dave Appel said.
The family said safety is top-of-mind for them, stressing that visitors will need to be respectful of their property, as well as that of their neighbors.
The Appels revealed their “final verdict” Wednesday, announcing plans to reopen following the meeting with officials, where they discussed the future of the famed Halloween set.
“We’re freaking doing this,” homeowner Dave Appel said in a TikTok live surrounding the decision. “The support from everybody has been ridiculous. Everyone did all the legwork.”
How They Created the Halloween Decorations
Although many who have seen the display for themselves or have seen it online are deeply curious as to how Max Mayfield is floating above the driveway, the magic will remain a mystery just a bit longer as October finally gets underway.
According to Aubrey, many fans online have suggested the couple used magnets or drones to keep Max floating. For the Plainfield couple, the full show needs to be open to the public before any of the secrets are revealed.
“The magic really isn’t so much in the prop we’ve made. It’s in the whole effect of it. And we decided that we’re going to hold on to the idea for a little bit longer just to give people more time to guess and figure it out and also bring people out,” Dave said.
This weekend marked the home’s first official open day.
While the displays have featured a floating character thus far, lighting and special effects will be added outside the home just in time for the start of October. Even though there’s plenty more to come in terms of Halloween madness for Dave and Aubrey, the decorations are all for the love of the holiday and related activities.
“We do this for no money,” Dave said. “It’s for free. It’s just for kids. It’s for adults who want to see something different, who want their walks to be, you know, more entertaining.”
There may not be any financial gain in the horror-inspired efforts at this time of year, but the couple has not avoided recognition for their extraordinary efforts.
“We actually heard from Netflix on our TikTok. They commented and said, ‘#001 fan for sure.’ Pretty cool. Like we took a good two or three minutes,” Dave said. “Did they really comment and how do you reply to that?”
The couple also said they received a retweet from the Stranger Things Writers’ Room, and have caught the eyes of athletes, bands and even The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
“I was like, ‘Okay, all right. We’re really doing something here,'” Dave said.
The couple have been on board with “Stranger Things” since the first season, with both Dave and Aubrey pointing to their childhoods in the 1980s and overall fascination with horror for drawing them into a show millions have streamed over the past six years.
The horror of the show may be a drawing point for them, but the show is much more than the scares for the Plainfield couple.
“It’s everything. It’s the music, it’s the writing. It’s really the connection to the characters,” Dave said, adding that the show has grown on the couple more and more with each season.
Even with the recent fanfare and recognition surrounding their decorations, Dave and Aubrey hope to continue just having fun and doing what they can within their means.
“We’re not trying to become the number one CGI creators. We just want to build and learn at our own pace, but be able to slightly outdo ourselves every year,” Dave said.
How to see it
The Planfield homeowners revealed there will be new hours for those who wish to visit with “lighting and special Fx” in full force, though the display will be visible all week long for those who can’t make it during those windows.
“You can visit any day of the week, however the lighting and special Fx will be off to help all the neighbors and ourselves rest and decompress,” the homeowners, Dave and Aurbey Appel, wrote on the HorrorProps Facebook page.
The official new hours are from 5-10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 4-9 pm on Sundays. Halloween Monday will also run from 5-9 pm
The address of the house can be found on this page, under “Infested Oaks”.