August 10, 2022


Delighting home maniacs

Some Alle-Kiski Valley families go all out to decorate their yards, houses for Halloween

Some Alle-Kiski Valley families go all out to decorate their yards, houses for Halloween

Hyped for the haunted hilarity of Halloween?

Janna Schrader of Harrison is.

The temperatures hadn’t dipped below 80 degrees when Schrader started scattering skeletons, purple lights and tombstones across her Oregon Avenue lawn.

“You might say I’m a Halloween freak,” said Schrader, who moved to the neighborhood from Verona a year ago.

The 20-foot spiderweb stretched across her front yard might tip you off. If not, her shoulder tattoo of Jack Skellington — the protagonist in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” — might.

That, or the skeleton roasting over the orawnge lights of a charcoal grill on her front porch.

“It’s all made up to look big and sometimes scary, but deep down it’s just for fun,” she said.

While house hunting last fall, Schrader noticed her neighbor Michael Zeiler’s outlandish holiday display and knew immediately that she’d fit right in.

“This year, he started putting his decorations out on Labor Day, so I got out there with mine,” Schrader said. “I figure we’ll be blinding each other this Christmas with all the lights.”

Indiana Township family got early start

Across the Alle-Kiski Valley, there are plenty of others who count down the final days of summer in anticipation of gearing up for spooky season.

The Fryer family of Indiana Township has been tricking out their lawn for upcoming trick-or-treaters since September.

“We love Halloween and all things spooky,” said mom Kerbie Fryer. “I think it helps us transition into the fall. It’s a lot of work though, so we like to have the decorations up longer.”

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Fryer family fave, and they have the film’s character Zero the ghost dog incorporated into their front lawn display that features creepy clowns, an inflatable of Oogie Boogie man, skeletons, ghosts and graves.

“We’re excited to show off our decorations to everyone that drives by, and we have so much fun doing this as a family,” Fryer said.

A pro in Vandergrift

Deanna Whaley of Vandergrift uses a unique skill set in her approach to decorating for Halloween.

A professional costumer for more than 27 years, Whaley creates a Halloween haven annually throughout her historic home on Franklin Avenue.

From a creepy graveyard on the front lawn to an elaborate orange-hued porch display that includes a homemade cauldron, Whaley and her husband, Gary, enjoy providing a fun and visually enticing public attraction for small-town Vandergrift.

“I do it for the community,” Whaley said. “The people drive by, ask questions and, if I’m outside, they can visit the porch.”

The couple are big fans of the classic witch-themed movie “Hocus Pocus,” and Deanna recreated a scene from the movie this year on the porch, using her late father’s prosthetic eye.

“He lost his eye in a mill accident when he was 16,” Deanna Whaley said. “I’m always creating different Halloween displays each year. My neighbors get excited to see what I’m going to do next.”

Whaley chronicles her decorating progress on her Facebook page.

“Last night I had people messaging me on social media telling me they were on my porch checking everything out,” Whaley said. “I love living in Vandergrift, love the people and I’ve lived here all of my life, and I like to decorate for the community to enjoy.”

West Deer display grows every year

From the Black Christmas tree in her living room to the bright greenish slime monster menacingly staring out from the top of the roof, the love for Halloween is evident at Jessica Good’s West Deer house.

The 36-year-old decks out her Bairdford Road home with spooky decorations ever year.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday because I was born in October,” Good said.

Good’s home has been given the ultimate ghoulish touch every year since 2007. She saw a neighbor’s decorations across the street and was inspired to do her own tradition.

Halloween isn’t the only holiday when she breaks out decorations. “We go big for every holiday,” she said.

As soon as fall weather comes and a Halloween decoration is in sight, Good immediately heads to her attic to bring out all the decorations her family has bought over the years.

She spends an estimated $500 to $600 on decorations each year. This year, she has placed cutouts of horror movie staples like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Pennywise in the yard.

“We always try to add stuff every year. Make it brighter every year,” Good said.

It takes a week for Good and her husband to have everything set up for residents to drive by and see the spooky sight. The celebration does not stop at the decorations. The family also holds a Halloween party on Good’s Oct. 23 birthday. Over the years the family has seen more houses following their lead in going big for the holidays.

“We love the fact we are on a main vein in West Deer, and constantly having people stop at our house,” she said. “We have people yell at us and say, ‘I love your house!’ ”

Freeport resident goes all out

Clara Bradley, 82, of Freeport credits her High Street home’s Halloween look to her daughter, Elizabeth Fitzgerald.

“She’s great at it,” said Bradley, who lives with her daughter and son-in-law, Scott. “She has all kinds of decorations on the house. She does it every year. When she finds the stuff on sale, she goes and sees it and she buys it.”

Décor includes several wreaths, a ceramic lighthouse, several witches and ghosts and a nearly 8-foot-tall inflatable “vampire Tigger” from “Winnie the Pooh.”

Orange, red and dark green faux leaves and small squash wrap like vines around the front porch. There’s also a flag with three images of the family’s English bulldog mix, Corky, sitting under a full moon wearing witch hats and surrounded by pumpkins and bats.

Bradley recalled how her eight children would go trick-or-treating every year. She plans on sitting on the porch and handing out candy to neighborhood kids doing the same this year.

“I love Halloween,” Bradley said. “Just to see the kids trick-or-treating, the little ones out Halloweening.”