BAXTER -- It's that time of year again, and Bob Musielewicz of Baxter is ready for Halloween -- and the hundreds of trick-or-treaters who will inevitably end up in his driveway Sunday.
Last year Musielewicz entertained his neighbors -- and ended up with a continual traffic jam in front of his house on Halloween -- by creating a 13-foot-tall animatronic Halloween creature in his front yard. Community members began stopping him in stores and neighbors were knocking on his door a few weeks ago, wondering if he would have another Halloween display this year. He usually puts it up a week before Halloween. But there was so much interest that Musielewicz decided to put this year's display up about two weeks early.
This year's display is a haunted cemetery, complete with five animatronic creatures, including two skeletons and three corpses that appear to pop out from behind gravestones. He purchased the skeletons from an educational supply company and the corpse-like creatures from the Scare Factory, the same company he purchased last year's Halloween creature.
Each March Musielewicz travels to Chicago to attend a Halloween convention to find the latest animated creatures designed by commercial Halloween outfitters. He usually purchases the rubber bodies of these creatures and then spends the year building the motors and interior structure of the creatures that will allow them to move. In addition to designing a haunted scene in his front yard, he has a CD of scary sounds created for him each year by Music General in Brainerd that plays outside to entertain visitors to his haunted display.
Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
Bob Musielewicz paused Wednesday night near his spooky graveyard, complete with moving skeletons powered by electric motors, in front of his Baxter residence.
Musielewicz said he usually reads at night in his living room and watches the cars that stop to see his display. Many take photographs. While he has received a favorable response from Halloween enthusiasts who are enjoying his haunted cemetery, he concedes that it's hard to top last year's monster. Last Halloween he and his wife Pam had more than 500 trick-or-treaters who stopped by their house. People even brought their videocameras to capture footage of his Halloween creature.
"It doesn't have the impact of a great, big monster but at night it's kind of neat," said Musielewicz, of his haunted cemetery. "I just love having the kids come. Generally they're not afraid. They think it's really cool."
The gravestones are made of wood. Horror film buffs will recognize the names on the gravestones as those of "victims" in various classic horror flicks.
If you go
Bob Musielewicz's haunted cemetery will be on display, complete with lights and haunted sounds, from about 6-9:30 p.m. each night until he takes it down promptly at 9 p.m. Sunday on Halloween.
To get to his home in Baxter, take Crow Wing County Road 48 to Parkwood Drive then turn right on Wedgewood Drive. Musielewicz's home is on the corner of Parkwood and Wedgewood drives.
Musielewicz's Halloween displays will never have scary creatures that jump out at people. He's not out to frighten children, but to create an interesting display with moving Halloween creatures that is fun for people of all ages. Musielewicz said last year there were a couple of little girls who were scared of his Halloween creature, so he met them at the end of his driveway with his bucket of candy. He and his wife dress up each year and sit on chairs in their driveway, passing out candy. This year they are ready for about 600 trick-or-treaters. Musielewicz will be dressed up as a zombie.
"I just absolutely love it," said Musielewicz, of Halloween. "My wife and I greet the kids and admire their costumes."
Musielewicz already has purchased his monster for next year's display. It will be even larger and likely more frightening than last year's Halloween creature. The body of the creature, which looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton monster, takes up an entire wall-length shelf in his basement, where all of his monsters and Halloween creatures live until they are recycled in another display.
"I think it'll be my absolute best," said Musielewicz with a smile, of the new creature. "I can't wait until next year. It'll be really, really neat."
After last October's story about Musielewicz and his Halloween creature appeared on the front page of the Dispatch, a couple of Open Forum writers criticized Musielewicz for his display and were equally critical of the Dispatch for featuring him in a story. Afterward he received several calls from his neighbors and other community members who were angered by the negative response and told him they didn't want him to stop celebrating Halloween because of it.
"It bothered me for an hour but I got over it," said Musielewicz, of the criticism. "Halloween isn't for everybody and I respect that. But this is my holiday and I love it."
When he's not haunting his Baxter neighborhood, Musielewicz is a mild-mannered business banker at Wells Fargo in Brainerd.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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