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Published October 11, 2010, 12:00 AM

It's My Job: Ghost with the most

Haunted Farm actor conjures Beetlejuice
Troy Johnson has been dressing up as Beetlejuice, the lead character from the 1988 movie, for the past 11 years to work at Mel Nygaard’s Haunted Farm south of Moorhead.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

Troy Johnson has been dressing up as Beetlejuice, the lead character from the 1988 movie, for the past 11 years to work at Mel Nygaard’s Haunted Farm south of Moorhead.

He also greets – and often startles – shoppers at Halloween Express, a seasonal costume and Halloween decoration store in south Fargo, where he hands out fliers to promote the farm.

Johnson, of West Fargo, who typically works at the Pepsi Americas warehouse in Fargo, said he looks forward to his Halloween gig every year.

He also goes all out at home and said once as he was sitting outside on Halloween in costume, a mom was uncertain about approaching his house with her preschool-aged son, but the child assured her Johnson was just a prop.

When they got up to him, he said, “No, I’m not,” and the mom took off running – without her son. She got about a block and a half away before she turned around to retrieve her son. Johnson gave the boy, who stayed and laughed at his mom, some extra candy.

Q: How did you become an actor for the Haunted Farm?

A: I have known Mel Nygaard, who is the owner of the Haunted Farm, since 1985. We were neighbors.

What do you like about it?

Just the fun, the surprised looks on people’s faces when I greet them or scare them, when they realize that I’m not a mannequin.

What do you do at the farm?

I’m the greeter.

There are multi-facets of the farm. You walk in; you pay; you go to the haunted house and anywhere from 10 to 15 different areas outside.

We found out experimenting that if you have somebody greeting people, get their juices flowing and blood pumping before they even pay, they start having a good time, and it continues all the way through.

Do you scare people, or are you friendly?

Both. It just depends on what people like. There are kids who are deathly afraid out there, but they’re fine with me. I’ll walk with the group with a flashlight, and I’ll show the kids who are really scared what’s fake, where the people are going to come out.

How did you become the Beetlejuice character?

Mel came up with the idea. He asked if anybody wanted to volunteer to try something, and I raised my hand, and he said, “OK, you’re going to be Beetlejuice.”

I went out and bought the DVD. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched that. I probably know 90 percent of the lines in it.

How do people react to you?

Terrified, happy, funny.

I’ve had people piddle their pants.

Patty (Bergan, Halloween Express owner) was taking one of her workers through here, and she didn’t know I was real, and she walked by and I said, “Hi.”

Her scream echoed through the building. It was great.

Anyone’s fair game. If I see a bunch of kids who are kind of timid as they’re coming in, I’ll just wave. I can gauge who I can scare and have fun with and who to back off on.

How long does it take you to get ready?

Fifteen, 20 minutes.

Have you always been Beetlejuice?

I started out as a mix of different characters. I’ve been (at the Haunted Farm) 17 years, so for the first six years, I was almost anything and everything.


To submit an idea for “It’s My Job,” e-mail businessnews@forumcomm.com.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

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