Orillia Halloween Display Captivates Community For Second Year

Derick Lehmann Halloween display
Photo courtesy of Derick Lehmann

Derick Lehmann’s Halloween display is back on Dale Drive in Orillia for the second year, captivating the community with a custom light display while also collecting non-perishables for a local food bank.

Lehmann first got the idea for the display while attending Disney World a few years back. He was watching the fireworks and light show at the castle when he noticed how the animations matched the features of the building. Components of the light show would dance around the castle’s windows and spires, which inspired him to learn more. When he got home, he researched and found out it was called projection mapping. He got involved in online forums, learned how to map his house and, with the help of a few artists, created a custom show.

“Instead of just putting a movie on a rectangular white screen, it’s now all cut into place,” Lehmann said. “A lot of the video elements actually react to the real elements on the house, and that’s what makes it look really unique.”

He had at least 300 people visit each weekend last year, he said. Visitors came from nearby areas like Muskoka and Barrie as well as further destinations like Sudbury, Ottawa and Niagara Falls.

Lehmann received great feedback from people of all ages, including his neighbours. The story was picked up by local news and eventually national news outlets, bringing even more attention to the projection show.

“A couple of the weekends, we had lines of cars right around the corner,” he said. “Dale Drive is normally a very quiet kind of dead-end street, and it was quite a block party it turned into.”

Many people asked if he was accepting donations of any kind, so he decided to add a charitable aspect to this year’s event. Lehmann and his family are longtime supporters of the Sharing Place, a not-for-profit food centre that aims to help Orillia-area residents living with food insecurity.

He already supports the Sharing Place through an annual ugly Christmas sweater bowling event, so he decided to put bins out and collect non-perishables for the centre while running his Halloween display. They were able to collect six bins of food in the first weekend alone, and donations like these play a crucial role in supporting the centre, said Christine Arnold, development manager at the Sharing Place.

“We run 100 per cent on donations and grants, so it has a huge impact on our organization,” Arnold said. “We actually receive a bulk of our donations between October and December, and we rely on those donations to carry us through the beginning of next year.”

Household staples like canned vegetables, meat and soup as well as pasta, pasta sauce and whole-grain cereal are often needed at the centre. People may not immediately think of items like coffee, tea, sugar and flour, but they also make great donations.

Every donation helps as staff at the Sharing Place have seen a major rise in need. For those who can’t donate money or food, they also need volunteers in their food bank and warehouse. From January to September, the food bank program had a 30 per cent increase in the number of visitors compared to the same time last year.

“What’s even more incredible is the number of first-time visitors, which has increased by 70 per cent,” Arnold said. “It goes to show that the rising cost of everything, housing, inflation, groceries, it’s impacting a lot of different people and a lot of people that have never had to look for support in the community before.”

Arnold said it’s great to be able to get out into the community again for events like Lehmann’s Halloween projection show, and she wants to thank Lehmann on behalf of the Sharing Place. Several members of the team have already visited the display with their families, and they’re excited to attend another one of Lehmann’s events.

“He [has been] an incredible supporter of the Sharing Place Food Centre and continues to be, which is fantastic,” Arnold said. “The employees here at Sharing Place are looking forward to attending the ugly sweater event that’s coming.”

While supporting the Sharing Place is the most important aspect of the event, Lehmann said he’s excited to welcome back both new and returning visitors for the light show. It includes some of the same content as last year, such as Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice-themed sections of the show, but people who saw the display in 2021 will still get to enjoy some new surprises as well.

The show is on a continuous loop and starts once it’s dark out, so visitors can come any time from about 7 to 10:30 p.m. Lehmann will be running the show on Friday and Saturday nights until Halloween as well as Halloween night itself.

“There’s a low-range FM transmitter I’ve set up, so if people want to stay in their cars, they can tune to 88.1 FM when they’re outside the house,” Lehmann said. “A lot of people have been getting out of their cars and standing on the grass in front of our house and that’s welcome as well.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here