Come visit in October for a classically scary good time.
Herzog Hollow is becoming a new Draper tradition in the month of October. On the corner of Fort Street and 13200 South, the unassuming 100-year-old white house is transformed every year into a spooky, Halloween spectacle that brings joy and creepy fun to Draper residents. Ryan and Juli Herzog are Halloween fanatics that truly enjoy making Halloween extra special and every year the Herzog Hollow gets more elaborately ghoulish and adorably terrifying for kids of all ages.
The Herzog’s are recent transplants to Draper when they moved here in 2011 from Seattle, Washington. Ryan has always had a desire to express his creativity in a macabre sort of way. He has an unusual obsession with the Grim Reaper and all things Halloween. Juli has learned to love Halloween over the years and has truly embraced the spirit of the holiday as the Herzog Hollow grows in popularity and eerie artistic expression. Juli just loves to get trick-or-treaters and was discouraged to find out that very few trick-or-treaters came around the neighborhood. However, Juli had to go to the grocery store three or four times to replenish their candy supply the very first year they put on their Halloween display. This is probably why Juli now embraces the holiday.
The front of the house is an enclosed cemetery with a prodigious number of gravestones and cornstalks. They erect a temporary wrought-iron gate and cement pillar entrance on 132nd South that invites visitors in to the elaborate Halloween exhibition. Besides one of the animatronic pieces, every decoration is handmade by Ryan or modified from store-bought supplies. With the help of his two teenage sons, Alex and Hunter, Ryan spends many months conceptualizing and creating original facades to add to the Halloween collection, and then shares it with the entire community. It is wonderful bonding time with his boys and a big reason why he does it.
This level of commitment has paid off for Ryan. In 2012 he was the winner of the International Dead with Dave Home Haunters award for Best Static Prop for his cemetery gate pillars. Since winning the award, which is sort of like an Oscar, but aptly shaped like a headstone, he is now a judge for the competition and gets to see and choose the best of the best from around the world. Typically wearing some kind of Halloween t-shirt, this holiday is no joke for Ryan.
“It just keeps growing. We get feedback from the kids and it just kind of escalated and now I am expected to have something new every year,” Ryan explains.
One of the kids that was a regular visitor to Herzog Hollow in 2014 was 5 year-old Ethan Shoemaker. His mom or dad would take him by the house every night, although they only stopped to visit about 10 times.
“There’s always new scary guys and now there’s one that’s named Creepy now. I went millions of time. It’s the scary house,” he exclaims. Ethan especially liked the over-sized pumpkin scarecrow that sits prominently on the corner of the house. He named it Banjik, and the name has stuck. Juli notes, “He was so cute, he made it worth it.”
It is undoubtedly a scary house. “Halloween is not about the cute stuff. It’s all about the scare. We stay away from the gore. No gore whatsoever. We like the classic scare stuff,” Ryan notes. The decorations and facades are enhanced by extensive lighting and loud, Halloween music that help to create the classic scare ambience. The Herzog’s also make sure to dress the part and usually come up with something classically scary to make it even more fun. In the past, they have been an undertaker couple, zombies, or the Grim Reaper and a doll from the movie Saw, all of which fit perfectly with the ominous decorations Ryan creates.
This year Ryan is working on a mausoleum to go on the side of the house. He has big plans for the Hollow. “We are wanting to get it so that you come in through the main entrance and then walk through a mausoleum and a catacomb,” he adds. Now, instead of a few trick-or-treaters, the Herzog’s get at least 300-400. They love to have everybody come, although they are a bit concerned about having enough candy for everyone. It is a hobby and a labor of love, and definitely not a money maker.
As the Herzog Hollow continues to grow, the corner of Fort Street and 132nd South is turning into a charmingly spooky addition to our community.