Family's mysterious 'Stranger Things' Halloween decoration wows

A video of “floating Max” has people scratching their heads in amazement.

ByYi-Jin Yu via via logo
October 23, 2022, 4:01 AM

With Halloween right around the corner, one Illinois family's epic decorations are delighting and baffling fans far and wide.

David and Aubrey Appel of Plainfield, Illinois, are the masterminds behind a levitating young woman in front of their house, which just so happens to be the fictional Max Mayfield, played by actress Sadie Sink, from the hit show "Stranger Things."

Their eye-popping stunt is featured prominently in a now-viral TikTok video post that has social media users wondering just how they pulled off such sorcery.

PHOTO: Aubrey and David Appel love to go all out for their home's annual Halloween decorations.
Aubrey and David Appel love to go all out for their home's annual Halloween decorations.
Courtesy David and Aubrey Appel

The post, which has accumulated over 14 million views so far, even caught the attention of Netflix itself. "#001 fan for sure," the streaming company commented on the Appels' viral video.

PHOTO: The Appel's Halloween decorations also include a version of the Chrissy character.
The Appel's Halloween decorations also include a version of the Chrissy character.
Courtesy David and Aubrey Appel

"We just decided that this year, while we were watching the new season of 'Stranger Things,'… I'm like, 'I believe we can do this whole set in pool noodles,'" David Appel told "Good Morning America."

The Appels began with dark vines made from pool noodles and then decided it was high time to "kick it up a notch." That's when the idea to make Max materialized. According to David Appel, they had their life-size Max ready to go after a month of testing and tweaking.

PHOTO: A number of the Appels' decorations this year were crafter from pool noodles.
A number of the Appels' decorations this year were crafter from pool noodles.
Courtesy David and Aubrey Appel

"We're keeping this secret until Halloween is a little bit more in season. I don't want kids coming, looking for how we're doing it. I want them to be like, 'Wow!'" Appel said. "I want somebody's parents to show their kid and be like, 'Look at Max floating in this person's front yard. And that kid be like, 'Holy cow!'"

Appel said he and his family didn't plan to keep Max under a shroud of mystery but it's been a fun secret to keep even with passersby who have been able to figure out the secret sauce.

"We didn't expect on keeping something a secret. It was just that the internet didn't figure it out. And then we're like, maybe that's really the special part about it, is there's magic in front of their face, adults have no explanation, and that's not something you get much anymore," Appel said.

PHOTO: David and Aubrey Appel's Halloween decorations this year include a floating Max character from the hit "Stranger Things" series.
David and Aubrey Appel's Halloween decorations this year include a floating Max character from the hit "Stranger Things" series.
Courtesy David and Aubrey Appel
PHOTO: The Appels say they want families and kids to be inspired and awestruck by their Halloween decorations.
The Appels say they want families and kids to be inspired and awestruck by their Halloween decorations.
Courtesy David and Aubrey Appel

The Appels estimate they've poured about 1,500 hours into their seasonal project with David Appel saying he spent at least nine hours every day in the last month to bring their vision to life. They've received lots of support from both their neighbors and fans online. At the end of the day, they just want to bring some magic to other families.

"We started doing these big decorations for the people that take nightly walks," Aubrey Appel said. "Now, we have those same families that walk through and they're like, Thank you for doing this.'"

Editor's note: This was originally published on Sept. 28, 2022.

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