How Mark Wehlage Does Halloween
By Marky Gray
Mark Wehlage, Conner Prairie’s Senior Manager of Programs, is one of the main people behind the planning of our annual Headless Horseman Festival and as you can probably guess, is a massive fan of all things Halloween! If you’ve ever passed by his office, you’ll have noticed his collection of Halloween themed decorations, some of which are waiting to fulfill their Halloween destiny in our new haunted maze while others have found a permanent spot in Mark’s office.
“It’s funny because as a kid, we never did that much decorating for Halloween. Though there was a shelf in our family room that had a stack of color construction paper, and we always made cutouts of various Halloween things and put them on the front door of our house, we always did that.”
Mark always has fond memories of Halloween as a kid as he recalls trick or treating being picture perfect in his mind. “Any image that you could conjure in your mind of the perfect town for Halloween, that’s how I saw my neighborhood while trick or treating as a kid. There were just so many other kids in costumes. It was very much like that scene from Hocus Pocus when they go trick or treating when I watch that movie I feel like that’s what Yorktown, Indiana was like when I was a kid.”
Another part of Mark’s Halloween traditions when he was growing up was making haunted houses.
“Through the course of my childhood, maybe between the ages 9 to 12, I made a haunted house at least once a year, and sometimes not even in October. I remember one of the haunted houses that I made, and the only one that people came to, was one where you had to sit in a plastic sled, and I pulled you through it. When I think about it, it was very elaborate in what I was doing, but it was fun.”
With Headless Horseman fast approaching, it becomes clear that planning and arranging this event is genuinely something Mark loves to do.
“I’m always excited for Headless Horseman, a little tired already, but very excited. I’m especially excited about the new haunted trail through the corn maze. There’s a storyline that people will be introduced for it this time. You’re traveling through Sleepy Hollow, and you’re attending the Van Tassel’s Fall Dance, and you’ve decided to take a shortcut through the cornfield to get there…. Good luck. It should be fun!”
“You know no one really came to my haunted houses as a kid, but it’s interesting that I’m a completely different person now, yet that thread of my life attaches from my childhood to me currently. Now I design and put together things like the corn maze and hayride and thousands of people come! It’s an honor to be able to do something that I love so much and am truly passionate about.”
Headless Horseman officially starts October 11 and will run Thurs-Sunday until October 28!