PORT CLINTON, OH—Unemployed father Daniel Spencer, 42, has reportedly spent the past several weeks focusing all his time and energy on transforming his home into a haunted house for Halloween.
Spencer, who was laid off in February when the Silgan Plastics Corp. closed its local plant, has worked long hours each day on schematics for the layout of the haunted house, collecting materials, constructing props, and planning a variety of ways to scare visitors.
"The neighborhood kids are really going to get a kick out of this," said Spencer, who was previously responsible for managing more than 130 employees and once hoped to work his way up to a position at the executive level. "It's going to be scary as heck. I made this really cool dead body by stuffing my old work uniform with a bunch of rags, and then I hung it from the big oak tree out front with a rope."
"And wait until they get a load of the glow-in-the-dark skeleton I'm putting in the attic window," the now- uninsured Spencer added. "It's going to spook the pants off people."
According to family sources, Spencer's weekly schedule for the past month has consisted of working two to three hours on the haunted house in the morning, watching television from the couch for a short period after lunch, and then spending the remainder of the afternoon and early evening putting the finishing touches on decorations and his resumé.
The father of three confirmed that after a recent unsuccessful job interview, he went on a shopping run and found a number of discounted Styrofoam balls, which he described as "perfect for making ghosts and spiders."
"And then later, just by chance, I happened to stumble across our cassette tape of spooky sound effects while clearing out some of my old work files from the crawl space," said Spencer, adding that he was glad he had found so much time during the past month to search online for haunted-house decorating tips. "Turns out, a lot of great supplies are right here in our own house. That's what's great about this whole project, you can really make a top-notch haunted house while spending almost nothing."
"Like when I made gravestones in the front yard using pieces of cardboard and spray paint," Spencer continued. "I also had plans to turn our station wagon into a hearse, but we had to trade it in for the hatchback."
According to Spencer, he initially intended to create a haunted house in the garage as part of an effort to cheer up his son Andrew, 11, who was still disappointed that he didn't get an Xbox 360 for his birthday. Spencer said the project gradually expanded to include a basement dungeon and a crypt on the patio.
"I told my wife that we still have the space for the time being, so we might as well use it," Spencer said. "Plus, you should have seen the kids' faces when I told them Daddy was going to turn the basement into a dungeon for Halloween. They just lit up, they were so happy."
After tripling the size of the haunted house, Spencer said, it seemed only natural to open the venue to the public and charge a small entrance fee of $2.
"I'm not in it for the money, of course—this is just so the kids can have a good time," he said. "But if I happen to recoup the cost of supplies, so be it."
Sources confirmed Spencer has also enlisted a number of friends, neighbors, and laid-off former coworkers to help out, with some dressing as monsters and others rapidly turning the overhead lights on and off to create a makeshift strobe effect.
Andrew Spencer, who assisted his father by peeling grapes for the bowl of eyeballs, was impressed by his unemployed dad's efforts.
"He's really good at this, because he used to be a manager at the plastic factory," the fifth-grader said. "Now he's managing a haunted house."