Halloween Decor Gone Bad

Guess this doc in Clifton, NJ (one of my husband’s many hometowns) is running afoul of the law over his Halloween display. You read that right. Halloween. Not Christmas. How’s that for scary? The bar’s been raised while I was napping. That guy’s almost arrested because of Halloween decorations and I have yet to bring down 1 fake pumpkin from the attic.

And that will pretty much be the extent of our display. We have a few styrofoam tombstones that topple in the slightest of breezes. We have a ghost on a stick. A bale of hay. (Honestly, when did that trend start? What’s scary about a bale of hay, except for all the little sheddy bits?) No East Wilmot Dead will be rolling in their graves over our ostentatious displays this All Saints Day. And this is a good thing. There are tiny kids on this street.

a grim reaper decoration, black ripped robes, skeleton face

The kid across the street hung up something like this in his front yard, right across from our living room window.

Years ago when the college kid across the street was in middle school and our daughter was in preschool, the boy climbed the large tree in his front yard and with the help of his father, strung up a bloody, ravaged body by the neck. The “decoration” was of the adult-level scary that keeps your kid out of those strip mall pop-up Halloween stores. He and his father rigged a pulley system so the dummy could be lowered down to scare the Bejeezus out of tiny innocent trick-or-treaters and their none-too-amused parents.

Naturally, our small daughter was haunted by the ghoulish creature, swaying in the wind from the tree that is directly in front of our living room window. She was very small, and asked us daily for the zombie to be taken down. We talked her through it until Halloween. We said the neighbors would take it down after that. Of course they didn’t.

The flesh-eaten, rotted and agape face stared at us for weeks. The leaves fell from the tree and the ghoul remained, rendering the scene in front of our house into something akin to The Others. We could not be in our living room without seeing it. Every breeze jostled the disgusting thing just enough to make you jump at the movement. We drew the curtains. We still couldn’t avoid seeing the ghoul coming and going from our house.

I knocked on the door a few times but I could never seem to catch them. I called the father. I told him how our daughter’s friends were no longer willing to come to the house for a playdate because of the ghoul. I told him how she was having nightmares. I said that Halloween was long past, we were close to Thanksgiving now. Could he please take the monster down?

trickortreathoursThis is where it went weird. He said he’d ask his son. What? This decision was going to be given to a 12-year-old boy? I asked what he meant, and sure enough, that’s what he meant. The decision was his son’s. I asked if I could then talk to his son. No, of course I couldn’t, he said. I felt that my neighbor was being quite insensitive, but we never had any quarrel and barely any interaction with this family, so¬†we waited to see what would happen.

A few days went by and the kid finally took down the ghoul. In the years after, it came out for Halloween sometimes but never stayed too long. Looking back now, I probably should have said something sooner. It was a bit too ghoulish for polite company. But we were new to the neighborhood (relatively, 3 or 4 years at that point) and I didn’t want to make any enemies.

Now there are enough little kids on the street that I’d probably get some support from other parents about such a frightening display. I suppose one could get one’s Commissioner involved, if things got contentious. And the police if things got illegal!

Thankfully on EW Ave we only have a few simple witches and white-sheet ghosts and 1 bale of hay. Pleasant. I know in a few years, though, I’ll have to fight with my son about the level of sick in the Halloween display. But thankfully, we don’t have a tree.