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Welcome to Tanisylvania

It’s never too early to start planning, and Richard LeFors, who has created a small-scale Halloween village that fills his two-car garage, should know.

Every fall, LeFors, who lives just off Cornelius Pass Road on the outskirts of Hillsboro, begins the lengthy process of setting up what he calls “Tanisylvania.” He starts assembling his macabre cityscape around Labor Day, and invests about 80 hours in setting it all up just right.

LeFors said his creation, which is named after Tanis, his wife of more than 20 years, first took shape about two decades ago when he bought a model called the “Dead-End Motel.”

“I saw it in a Poulsbo, Wash., hobby store, and I liked it,” he recalled. “I took it home and put it on a card table, and then over the years started adding other pieces to it.”by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTOS: DOUG BURKHARDT - A skeleton crew of mariachi band members performs in the sand with cactus alongside; one of the many examples of the intricate detail that has gone into Richard LeFors Halloween display, which now fills his entire two-car garage.

Every Halloween season, he set up his display, and pretty soon, Tanisylvania got big enough that he had to move it to the dining room table. After a while, even that was not large enough, so he kept adding card tables to allow the “city” to grow.

Eventually, however, his wife got tired of being without a dining room table for a couple weeks every October, so LeFors had to get even more creative.

“Three years ago, I put it out in the garage,” he said.

By then, he had three 4-feet by 8-feet tables covered with all manner of skeleton figures, ghouls and monsters, mist machines, organ music, dancing figures twirling about, buildings with colored lights and even two skeletons on a railroad hand-car moving back and forth on a short stretch of track. And at that point he realized how special Tanisylvania was.

“I figured what the heck, I’ll open up the garage on Halloween to let kids see it too,” LeFors said.

Kids started coming to his house on Southwest Jay Street near Brown Middle School, but teens and adults came too.

“We get all ages,” said LeFors, who works as a sales and customer service rep for Jewett-Cameron in North Plains, a company that makes dog kennels, greenhouses, gates and tools. “Adults like it, too. There was a funny thing this year — a group of kids came in and wanted to see everything, and they were so excited they started to leave without getting candy.”

“I thought his display was amazing. You could really tell he put a lot of hard work, money and time into it,” said Brandon Maldanado, a Century High School sophomore who lives nearby. “I appreciate the work he did to make Halloween fun for the kids in his neighborhood.”

LeFors lives on a relatively quiet street, but his display has been creating a buzz.

“We almost had a traffic jam once; there were six cars out front,” he laughed. “It’s just enjoyable and fun. I’ve always had fun with it. I don’t like things that jump out at you on Halloween. I think that’s one reason kids like this. It’s macabre and scary, but nothing jumps at you. Kids especially like the minions and zombies.”

One of LeFors’ newest displays is a group of skiers and snowboarders on a snowy mountainside. Of course, all the individuals frolicking in the snow are skeletons.

“I had a space I didn’t know what to do with last year, and I woke up at 4 in the morning and dreamed up the ski area,” he explained, adding that he calls the skier poised on a ski jump “Fast Eddy.”

And he’s already cooking up new ideas for next Halloween.

“I want to raise a section up to make a stair-step waterfall,” he pointed out. “I always wanted more flowing water and flowing features.”by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTOS: DOUG BURKHARDT - LeFors peeks through a black curtain behind his elaborate miniature city, which he calls Tanisylvania.

With his garage already filled, however, he realizes he won’t be able to expand too much more.

“It has probably evolved to where it’ll mostly be, although I’ll put in different pieces,” he said.

LeFors added that his garage display has become something of an annual tradition.

“I already have a lot of kids coming back,” LeFors said. “As they get older, they remember it. I’m sure I’ll keep doing this for awhile longer. For me, it’s just a creative outlet — Halloween is my holiday.”



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  • 21 Oct 2014

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