Dave and Barb Clark with son Kory

Dave and Barb Clark with son Kory

Getting ready for Hallowe’en

What sort of people create those big Hallowe'en displays on their lawns every year, and why do they do it?

There’s something about Hallowe’en with its tricks and treats and ghoulish strangers roaming the streets that instills both fear and fascination. As much as Christmas, this one-day holiday inspires poets and painters, movies, songs and stories…

And all people who love this holiday to cook up something scary to surprise and delight a youngster’s imagination.

Barb and Dave Clark have been turning their front yard on Sunvalley Dr. in Cache Creek into a Halloween display for 13 years now.

“The kids enjoy coming and we enjoy doing it,” says Barb Clark. “We like decorating, we like dressing up and we just enjoy the whole process of it.”

“It’s a work in progress,” says Barbara Roden of the Hallowe’en display that she and son Tim have made in their front yard in Ashcroft on Mesa Vista Heights.  This is their third year.

“We just enjoy doing the effects for Halloween,” she says. “W put it up early so people can enjoy it… I hope.”

The Roden’s front yard is already decorated with pumpkins, rickety fences and giant spiders, ghostly wraiths, a life-sized coffin against the house that Tim made and had his mother lay in it to test the size, and a pumpking-headed figure named Hector sitting on the porch.

“I decorate inside at Christmas time where I can see it and enjoy it,” says Barbara, “but for Halloween it’s more of a community thing and I like having it out here.”

The Clarks have decorations in their yard already as well, but they are there mainly to pique interest and satisfy the people who are already looking for signs of Halloween. The real display won’t come out of the garage until this Saturday.

“People ask me ‘How will we find your house’?” says Dave Clark. “I say just look for the two pumpkins on the roof cause you’ll see them. The house, like, just glows.”

He says the street in front of their house  is crowded on Halloween night with between 150-180 kids coming to their door throughout the evening. “I don’t know if the neighbours like it or not,” he says.

“We’ve been threatening to spill our stuff into the neighbours’ yards across the street and next door,” says Barb, “because we have so much stuff we just never get a chance to put it all out.”

The Clarks built their pirate ship two years ago – well, half of it. They start planning in August, looking for ideas “and then we build and paint it and then we just add to it,” says Barb. “Every year we add something new, because that’s what everyone comes for – to see what’s new.”

They are cutting back on their pumpkins, though because they take  so much time to carve.

“Last year we carved 28 pumpkins,” said Dave. “This year we’re only doing eight. Plus we have about 15 plastic pumpkins.”

Barb says Halloween for her as a child in Quesnel was always great. It was the freedom of running around and getting candy.

“Free candy!” says Dave. “Bags and bags of it.”

Barbara Roden says she and her brother used to decorate their family house in Richmond with all sorts of spooky stuff.

“One year we noticed the kids would come by at, like, 7 o’clock,” she says. “and then at 9 o’clock the parents would come by because the kids were going home and saying to their parents: ‘You gotta go see the Hacocks house, it’s great.’ So we’d get these parents just wandering by.”

There’s spooky and then there’s Spooky!

Tim says he overheard one young voice last year plead “‘Mommy, I don’t want to do, it looks too scary.’ So they kept walking. Which, I mean, it’s great but not exactly what we wanted.”

Some children, says Barbara, won’t approach the house, perhaps thinking that monsters may come jumping out of the bushes at them.

Clarks had a haunted house for the trick or treaters for two years, but they don’t do that anymore – many of the younger children were afraid to approach the house.

Dave says their animatronic butler even gets some of the adults to jump when it suddenly starts moving and talking.

The Rodens say a good Halloween brings from 30-40 kids to their doorstep.

“We’re hoping there’s going to be more this year,” says Barbara. “Being the last street on the mesa, not a lot of kids make it up this far.”

But it may be worth it just to see the severed leg and hand in the driveway surrounded by emergency tape – “Because what kid doesn’t like a severed leg?” says Barbara.

And then there are the blinking eyes lurking behind the garage door.

The Clarks are already assembling this year’s display.

Dave happily comments that he’s bought more skeletons, and they show off a couple of new items, one of which is a largish vulture.

“We’re so crazy,” says Barb. “I take vacation days at Halloween so we can be all set up for when the kids come.

“I really like seeing the kids with their smiling faces and their excitement, and the costumes are just unbelievable that the kids come up with. That’s what it is, it’s all about the fun and seeing the faces.”

She says she doesn’t know yet what they’ll do for next Halloween, but now it’s time to start planning and shopping for their Christmas display.