By Andrea Arnold
There is a house in McBride, on the corner of 2nd and Dominion, that looks like a normal family home 51 weeks of the year. But each year, during the week prior to October 31, ghosts, goblins, giant skeletons and singing pumpkins emerge from the basement to spread Halloween cheer.
Resident Sherri Flynn has not always had a love for all things Halloween.
“I don’t really remember when it happened,” she said. “I do remember working at the bar, and one year, I was tasked with decorating for Halloween. I really enjoyed it, and enjoyed that others enjoyed the result. I kinda went crazy from there. It is fun. It is the one time of year you can be creepy and no one cares.”
Flynn is still building her decoration stash. Throughout the year she is on the lookout for ideas and items that she can repurpose to join her collection.
“I am in a lot of Facebook groups, and Pinterest” she said. “I see things and then put my own spin on the idea. Then figure out how to do it.”
She also gets a lot of small items from dollar stores.
“I deconstruct and then reconstruct to fit my plan.” The chance to be creative and create is one of her favorite parts of the process.
Annual visitors to the yard will notice that there are usually two bigger additions each year. One purchased and one created by Flynn. These are kept a secret until they are placed in the yard. Even the store-bought props get a bit of Flynn’s imagination added as they take their place among the bones and ghosts. The 12-foot tall skeleton was named “Jon Bone Jovi” and the singing pumpkins get a new song list each year.
The process starts way before October 31 as Flynn plans the layout of the yard, how to incorporate her new props and how to accomplish the necessary technical goals to bring her vision to life. Her family tries to help where they can.
“Matt does any ladder work,” said Flynn. “I don’t do ladders. Mostly, they help bring me boxes, and hold things while I figure out what I’m trying to accomplish. They do help me take it all down in a day. I am very grateful for that.”
Flynn takes a week off of work to perform her magic. Boxes are brought up and sorted through as she modifies her plans and checks to make sure everything is in working order. A few days before Halloween, some of the smaller regulars such as the tombstone graveyard and singing pumpkin patch, appear in the yard.
October 31 is a busy day as all of the larger props are put in place and the new additions are made public.
“The weather is part of the reason I wait to put out the big props,” said Flynn. “It can be tricky with rain and wind.” To protect the display from electrical disaster, Flynn relies on plastic bags over the electrical elements.
But wind and rain are not her only concern. Flynn keeps her fingers crossed as she is setting up, that the snow stays away until at least November 3.
“It’s hard to make things spooky and scary when everything is covered with fluffy white snow,” she said. “I like twigs and sticks and crunchy leaves. If I was going to make things gory, it would be easy, just splash fake blood around, but I try to keep it family-friendly, fun creepy.”
She has hopes to eventually be able to set up a less family-friendly section of the yard as a haunted maze for the older visitors. The house has a walk-through porch that she uses to hand out candy. This area will continue to be the candy collection point for the younger children. The option to proceed through the door into the haunted maze will be presented to the older visitors.
Last year, the haunted yard had 98 kids visit. The number is higher if you include the grown-up kids who came to see what Flynn created.
“I hope people who see it think it is cool, that they enjoy it, and that the adults get to feel like a kid again,” she said.
“One of my favorite parts is seeing the kids’ excitement when they stop by.”