PALM HARBOR, Fla. — As you first enter Andrew Long’s Palm Harbor front yard, you may be a little frightened, but when you take a peek behind the curtain to find out the college freshman designed, built and wired every Halloween attraction on his own, you might be amazed.
The zombies, ghouls, and that mysterious barrel of slime, are all moving by way of air pressure, set off by motion sensors.
“And we’ve gotten better at it over the years, just putting all the controllers, nematics, all that together and making things work and be scary,” said Long.
Long said he was born for this kind of entertainment. He is currently studying architecture at the University of Florida.
“I always aspired to be like an imaginer, like someone who would work at the creative department at Universal or Disney,” said Long.
However, not everything is made in a lab. He’s also enlisted the help of his alma mater, the East Lake High School Theater Department.
“To get to do all the fun, bloody stuff and scare children is just super fun,’ said student Madeline Long.
“My normal job is to actually make children really happy as a birthday princess, so getting to scare people is like the complete antithesis and I love it so much,” said student Corinne McCormick.
They aren’t only raising your heartbeat. They are also raising money, and all donations go toward the Homeless Empowerment Program. They call it Haunt for Hep.
“So when I was younger, about 10 years old, I volunteered in their soup kitchen,” said Long.
“It’s incredible to see someone doing something like this and really helping spread the word about HEP,” said marketing director Rebecca Adams.
If Long does end up working at a major theme park one day, just remember it all started in his own front yard.
“It makes me happy when I see the look on other people’s faces and maybe even inspire them because I’ve had little kids ask me, ‘how do you do this, how do you do that,’” said Long.
Haunt for Hep is located on Brian Road South in Palm Harbor. It’s open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31.
For more information on the Homeless Empowerment Program, go to www.hepempowers.org.