Those who spend hours decorating their properties for the holiday less commonly associated with huge displays say they’re in it for the reactions.
A few local residents have made it a tradition to fill their yards with skeletons, tombstones and decapitated bodies – all fake, of course – for Halloween, often causing drivers to slow down as they pass and trick-or-treaters to talk about their homes months in advance.
“Halloween is my big thing,” said Hank Hockey, who lives at 316 West DeKalb Drive in Maple Park.
Hockey has been a fan of Halloween since he was a boy. He remembers watching TV shows like “Svengoolie” and “The Munsters,” and he and friends made a haunted trail when they were younger.
He typically begins pulling out the decorations in the last week of September and has the display completed by Oct. 1. It’s always a work in progress, he said, as he adds music, lights or fog.
“I try to get as detailed as possible,” said Hockey, who tonight will be dressed as a crazy bride, complete with bloodied dress and wig, carrying a chainsaw.
His neighbors are supportive of the decorations, and Hockey’s even created a Facebook page for his decorated home: “The House at 316.”
On Park Avenue in Sycamore, the Loyd family goes with a pirate theme. Shanon Loyd said he’s been into pirates since the days before the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films became popular, citing old Errol Flynn movies as his inspiration.
A Jolly Roger flag flies from the porch, and skeletons, skulls and cannons fill the yard, which Loyd said he’s been decorating every Halloween for the past eight years.
“Every year, it gets a little bit bigger,” his wife, Monique Loyd, said.
As a truck driver, Kevin Haish is gone for weeks at a time and his decorating hours are limited. But he always gets Halloween and the days near it off from work, and uses that time to create his spooky set-up on South Cross Street in Sycamore.
“This is my week of de-stressing,” Haish said with a laugh.
This year, Haish dug through almost 40 boxes of Halloween supplies and went with an asylum theme in his enclosed porch. An old chair from a doctor’s office is covered in a sheet with bloody hand and footprints, and heads hang from the ceiling.
His yard features skeletons, tombstones and a guillotine.
Loyd, Hockey and Haish said they don’t spend much on the decor, since they make many of the pieces featured in their yards or receive them from others. Many things they do buy come from dollar stores or after-Halloween sales.
Blustery fall days can present a problem for those with extensive displays. Loyd said he’s chased some of his pieces down Park Avenue on particularly windy days.
All said they live for the reaction of trick-or-treaters. Hockey said neighborhood children start talking about his display in June.
The Loyds said they get a kick out of seeing younger children run quickly past the cannons in the yard, as if they might go off.
“We just hope that they enjoy it as much as we do,” Monique Loyd said.
Haish, who’s been decorating the South Cross Street home for the past 15 years, said he’s seen some of the same trick-or-treaters for several years, and it’s nice to know the children who stop by.
Some taunt Haish by saying they won’t be scared by his decorations.
“But there’s always something up here that’ll scare them,” he said.