Ryan Andersen and his family love Halloween as much or more than your family.
Andersen, his wife, and their two young kids carve a few pumpkins a year -- one year they won the carving contest in their Maple Grove neighborhood -- and the kids dress up and trick-or-treat.
Andersen says he's "far from a prude" when it comes to the holiday. His kids are allowed to wear scary costumes, because they understand that it's all in fun, and nothing bad is actually going to happen to them.
He can't say the same for television, where macabre, unsettling scenes can affect the kids deeply. Andersen and his wife keep a close eye on what they're watching, and use the website Common Sense to get an idea of which shows aren't appropriate for their ages (7 and 4).
Andersen usually figures he's in the clear when it comes to the local nightly news. He's reconsidering that, though, after walking out of the room the other night while tuned in to KARE 11's broadcast.
Andersen says his 7-year-old son was sitting alone when an ad came on for ValleyScare, the popular Valleyfair haunted house open on weekend nights from mid-September through October.
The ad was freaky. In a way, it worked: Andersen's kid was terrified. It took his dad an extra hour that night to get him to sleep, and he experiences a "PTSD-like experience" whenever the ValleyScare spot airs.
In another way, the ad had the reverse effect from what was intended: It did not make Andersen want to spend a dime going to ValleyScare. Instead, it made him want to write a letter to KARE 11 about taking the ad off the air. He hasn't heard back from KARE 11 about this -- neither has City Pages -- but wants the station to think about whether the ValleyScare ads are suitable to air before 9 p.m., when young kids like his will be watching.
Andersen says the ad his son saw had something to do with a medical room, where someone runs into the room and encounters a man with a "grotesque" face. We couldn't find that one online (if you can, send it to us) but did find another featuring a frightened woman and an evil clown, which Andersen says has also aired on network TV and "terrified" his boy.
The Andersens dropped cable TV about a year ago, and he cites the number of violent or horror movie and television show ads as a major factor.
"They have become very graphic," he says. "We were sick of it."
He is involved in a few parenting groups, and is thinking about organizing a targeted boycott of KARE 11, and of Valleyfair, until these ads are moved to more appropriate time slots.
"I never thought I would be emailing TV stations like this," says Andersen, "but I am pretty disappointed by the lack of oversight."