Chandler man transforms childhood fear of Halloween SanTan Sun News

Chandler man transforms childhood fear of Halloween

October 15th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Chandler man transforms childhood fear of Halloween
Neighbors
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By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Mason Petersen said Halloween terrified him as a child.

It wasn’t just the ghost stories and haunted mansions. Petersen is autistic and the flashing lights and loud noises led to some sensory overload.

Now, he’s the one dishing out the scares.

Petersen has built a display themed Ghoulish Graveyard and Cursed Catacombs for this Halloween at his West Chandler home.

“It’s fun just to share it with the neighbors and the people in the area,” Petersen said.

His display, at 6321 W. Post Road, will be set up through the month for Halloween. People can see all the displays and the nearly half dozen animatronics 6-9 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. It’s free but Petersen is seeking donations for Arizona Autism United.

Petersen is accepting donations from visitors with the money going to Arizona Autism United.

He said he’s been setting up a Halloween display every year since his family moved to Chandler in 2009.

Their display got a big boost a decade later.

Petersen said a woman named Kerry was driving past their house in 2019 and saw his display October.

“A lady came by, and donated her husband’s stuff that he had before he passed because he was also passionate for Halloween,” Petersen said. “I was pretty shocked by the kind gesture.”

The donation quadrupled the size of his display overnight.

Petersen said the key to getting over his fear of Halloween as a child came after some family members took him to a haunted house.

“That kind of took away the fear,” Petersen said, adding that what also helped was he started working at Spirit Halloween, working directly with skeletons, witches and tombstones.

“Working with all the scary stuff took away the fear,” he said.

Petersen says it usually takes him two-to-three weeks to set up the display. He said most young children enjoy it and he’s never seen one freak out by it.

There are lights and music, but Petersen said he created the display so that it would not be sensory overload for people on the spectrum.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re autistic or not, I just think no one really deserves to have to deal with loud noises all the time.”

The one thing he would like to see this Halloween is more people visiting his display. He said despite having the biggest display he’s ever done last year, it did not draw a crowd because of the pandemic.

“COVID wasn’t even a year old yet, … there was probably some fear around it, like most people weren’t comfortable,” Petersen said. “But like now the comfort is coming back. So we’re hoping to get more foot traffic this year.”

Petersen said he’s happy with the display and eager to show it off.

 

COVID wasn’t even a year old yet, … there was probably some fear around it, like most people weren’t comfortable, but like now the comfort is coming back. So we’re hoping to get more foot traffic this year.

– Mason Petersen

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