ScaryTimes [UPDATED]Published 3:59am Monday, October 28, 2013 Updated 6:05am Monday, October 28, 2013
Turning a front yard into a Halloween-themed place for trick-or-treaters to stop by doesn’t get done overnight. It takes years of work and prop making.
Kristyn Fick and her younger brother, Kyle, were just sitting around 10 years ago when Kyle brought up the idea of putting together a Halloween yard. They went hunting for ideas online and made six tombstones and a coffin.
“We didn’t even sit outside,” Fick said. “It was more just for decoration. We said, ‘well, let’s just add a little more each year.’”
Now, the yard in Ashby has turned into a Halloween destination for trick-or-treaters. The front yard is set up with a temporary graveyard gate for dressed-up youngsters (and adults, too) to enter on Halloween night and walk through to see the tombstones (of Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and others), skeletons, mausoleum and other Halloween decorations. She also has a total of 29 pumpkins to display this year. The yard is lit well enough so people can read the names and information on the tombstones.
A new prop this year is a Beethoven tombstone, with the skeleton of a woman leaning next to it. It’s a favorite of Fick’s because she liked the idea of a mourner sitting by the gravesite so long that she turned to stone.
Usually she has four people throughout the yard dressed up in their best Halloween costumes. But it’s all about fun and treats, not scary tricks.
“This is for trick-or-treaters,” Fick said. “Not to scare anybody. It’s more fun watching the kids’ imagination work more than anything.”
Visitors end up in Fick’s garage where candy awaits.
“And there’s always hot chocolate,” Fick said. “I probably go through 200 cups of hot chocolate each year.”
Though she doesn’t get the main trick-or-treat traffic in town, the number of visitors has increased over the years, just like the number of props Fick has added. About 15 kids showed up the first year in 2003, and now its more than 100, depending on the weather. The adults really enjoy the display as well.
“After bringing their kids home for the night, then they come back here and walk through again,” she said.
Fick can’t even estimate how many props she has, except to say that it’s probably dozens. They’re all stored in boxes and in the rafters of her garage.
Fick makes 80 percent of her Halloween props and decorations. Halloween is a year-round work of passion for her. She gets a lot done during the winter months, pretty much whenever the Christmas decorations come down.
“It’s really just when I have the urge to work on something,” Fick said.
She’s made a bunch of tombstones over the years, with 17 to 18 hours invested in each one. Working on them an hour here or there, one tombstone probably takes 2-1/2 weeks to complete. The planning process often takes a large chunk of time.
She uses two-inch styrofoam, glues the pieces together, uses a heat gun to give them that aged look, printed out the letters from her computer to use as a stencil and used a wood burning tool to get them just right.
Her friends even give her a hard time when she declines social plans, saying she needs to work on her Halloween props.
A few years ago, she joined HauntForum.com where she connects with other people and can bounce around ideas for Halloween.
She’s gained friendships, decoration ideas and constructive criticism through the group.
So why put in all that work into making props, when you could just buy decorations instead?
“It’s more fun,” Fick said. “You get more satisfaction out of something that you made. It’s a lot of work. I don’t know what I have invested in Halloween. I’d say a couple thousand.”
At some point each year, she says she’s not going to do it anymore, but she ends up keeping the annual tradition.
“What keeps me going every year is there’s always five or six kids … they come up, they find me just to say thank you,” Fick said. “Pretty much the kids’ reaction is what makes it worth it for me.”
Because if the kids enjoy the Halloween display, maybe they’ll decide to do something like this when they get older, Fick said.