Chief Warrant Officer 4 Andy Laffery and his wife, Theresa, love Halloween, so much so that the couple has created a Halloween display at their home in Tonganoxie that attracts visitors from well beyond their community.
Laffery, a 26-year veteran of the Kansas National Guard, is a Title 5 Technician working as a Human Resource Specialist in the Human Resources Office in Topeka. Theresa worked with Family Programs from 2012 to 2016 and received an appreciation award in 2015.
The Halloween bug bit the Lafferys several years ago when the couple organized a fund-raising haunted house for a local Iola nonprofit organization. After moving to Tonganoxie, the couple took part in the town’s annual Spooktacular, then transferred their Halloween scary-making to their home at 109 E. Third St., where it has been entertaining hundreds for the past four years. Word of mouth and social media posts have drawn visitors from Kansas City, Lawrence, Olathe, Lansing and even Topeka. Laffery estimates about 100 people have gone through so far this year with many more driving by every day.
The display is truly a family endeavor for the Lafferys.
“She is the ‘brains’ and I am the ‘brawn’ of this project,” said Laffery. ‘It’s something we both enjoy and get to spend time together doing while sharing ideas and smiles.”
Over the course of the years, the project has evolved from a skeleton and a pumpkin on the front porch to a much more elaborate display that fills the front and side yard of the property. Laffery said they start setting things up at the end of August and put more out every day until mid-October.
“It is a haunted walk through with a ‘No Petting Zoo’ full of skeleton animals like an ape, crocodiles, fish, turtles, dragons, cats, rats, bats, wolves, dogs, ducks, chickens, pigs, and lots of spiders,” said Laffery. “We have a cemetery filled with vampires, skeletons, werewolves, Michael Myers, and Ghostface. We have a clown area, a zombie Barbie area, a pirate ship, witches, and a front porch full of pumpkins.
“We are still adding little details everyday to improve the areas for people to take photos with the props.”
The display is open from mid-October through Halloween night with daytime hours for very young kids “so it's not scary” and nights for everyone.
“We love to see the community be able to enjoy more than just a display,” said Laffery. “We enjoy seeing the community come, have fun, get out, interact and walk through instead of just drive by the display.”
And the Lafferys’ enthusiasm for the project spills over to the people who come.
“Everyone thinks it's amazing, awesome, wild, absolutely incredible,” said Laffery, “and most of all, they thank us for having something so great in our little community for everyone to enjoy.”