Master storyteller will tell spooky stories on the parking lot trolley.
Although Halloween has been a favorite of Lakewood Ranch’s Joe Pfeiffer, he didn’t really start to get involved until his early 20s.
“As I got older I started haunted yard scenes. Then it got bigger and I went to haunted garage scenes and then haunted houses,” said Pfeiffer, who is now 62. “I had life-size characters, some mannequins, hard and soft. I would dress them up in different costumes using different masks and hands.”
His passion, which will be on display Friday at Boo Fest in Lakewood Ranch, continued to grow. Living in Kentucky in 1987, both Pfeiffer and his wife, Barbara, took storytelling lessons from the National Storytelling Association.
“They used an old library building, and we had storytellers come talk to us from around the world,” Pfeiffer said. “We would interact with them and learn how to be a better storyteller.”
That skill, combined with his love of children, came in handy at Halloween.
“Most kids have a curiosity of fear,” Pfeiffer said. “You have to be careful with kids, though, because if you go beyond that threshold point, it almost leaves them with an emotional scar. You never want to do that. Anytime I see a kid reacting negatively, I’ll talk to them and tell them it’s pretend.”
At Boo Fest, Pfeiffer will be found in one of the trolleys transporting visitors from the parking lot. He has been preparing for his role. He said he will drive his route beforehand, and make up stories for different spots. He also will have two versions, one for people going to the event and one for people leaving.
“It won’t be anything gross or disturbing,” Pfeiffer said. “But it will be a bit unsettling. I’ve got a good imagination, so I will kind of let that roll.”
This will be Pfeiffer’s eighth year volunteering at Boo Fest, but it’s his first time on the trolley.
He said he loves the creative aspect of telling stories. He has written children’s books himself, one titled “Give Them a Real Scare This Halloween,” which can be found on Amazon.
But he said writing stories and telling them can be different.
“You always use different voices,” Pfeiffer said. “You are trying to re-create it, like a play, and the more you use voice variations, the more interesting the story is because you’re experiencing the different characters.”
Pfeiffer, a management consultant, said no matter how good he is, it can be difficult to keep a child’s attention.
“I challenge myself in that sense,” he said. “Otherwise they’re going to be looking around at something else and not listening to you.”