Haunting holiday hijinks
It's the time of year when goosebumps can rise just as quickly as the dead -- or so they say.
Oct. 31 is just around the creepy corner, and with it comes the imagination of some Halloween-loving homeowners.
Heed the warning: Do NOT walk into the yard on 412 Curry Avenue in Detroit Lakes.
If you choose not to listen, well, it's your funeral... because you could be stumbling upon death's door.
"These caskets here are actually garden boxes in the summer," said homeowner Ann Zick, pointing to two large wooden boxes in her yard -- or more accurately, graveyard.
"The kids all built crosses from some old wood we had a couple of years ago," Zick said, as her 12-year-old daughter, Grace, added, smling, "Ya, mine says 'Here lies Grace'."
The Zicks add a little bit to their Halloween graveyard every year.
"We shoot to be the tackiest house on the block," Zick laughs.
The Zicks can trigger fear in any unsuspecting pedestrian walking by if they so choose, as a switch in their kitchen is wired to a big blow up figure in their yard, which will begin to inflate instantly.
"We also have a ghost on a wire that is motion-activated so it will fly across the yard," said Zick, adding, "We just love Halloween."
So do Bonny Johannes and her husband, Tracy, who live at 1218 Lake Avenue in Detroit Lakes.
They're not the only ones that live there -- and we're not talking about the children.
Ghosts and goblins occupy their front yard, summoned by the entire family.
"It happened on one of those nice Sundays," said Johannes.
"The kids were playing in the leaves while Tracy and I decorated," she explained.
One thing led to another. "And before you knew it somebody was up on the roof and we were all carried away," she laughed.
Johannes says going all out like this was mostly Tracy's "doing," but she says along with the good family time comes something else.
"When I was complaining about having to look at it all from the backside, which is kind of ugly, he (her husband) said, 'Ya, but it makes people happy,' and I just thought that was so sweet," said Johannes.
It makes people happy, indeed.
In fact, according the U.S. Census Bureau, there are roughly 41 million trick-or-treaters who hit the houses each year, and they're out for blood -- or rather, candy.
Nearly 90 million pounds of candy are sold during Halloween in the U.S., translating into a $2 billion-a-year business.
Add the cost of the perfect costume and some decorations, and analysts say the average person will spend $66 every Halloween.
Oct. 31 wasn't always this commercialized, though. According to the History Channel's website, Halloween started as a Celtic ritual.
Their new year, which was Nov. 1, marked the beginning of the cold, dark winter -- a time that often meant death for early Celts.
They also believed that the night before (Oct. 31), the boundary between the worlds of the living and the worlds of the dead became blurred.
Bonfires and costumes were worn to ward off ghosts.
Nowadays, the holiday is a little more light-hearted and family friendly.
Experts say the popularity of Halloween continues to rise in the U.S., most likely because of the universal appeal.
That trend seems true locally also, as Ben Franklin Manager Jayne Haldorson said that next to Christmas and fall, Halloween decorations are their hottest commodity.
"People just have so much fun with it," Haldorson said, "from our big eyeball to the long-legged spiders to candy corn lights, and flying bats -- some of it's already sold out. A lot of the ghosts are gone already, as well as some of the witches' hats."
Haldorson says the hottest items of the year are the witches' legs.
"They're just a set of legs that people will hang out of their car doors, windows, trunks... anything," said Haldorson, "I ordered dozens upon dozens of these and now I only have a few left."
Haldorson says around now is when people will start to come in looking for help making a certain costume.
"And it's only limited to their imagination," said Haldorson. "So they'll come in, tell us what they want to be, and we will all be having our resource minds on to help them figure out how to best make these costumes."
So while the days (and the oh-so chilling nights) slowly drag on until the happily horrific holiday, just remember the old phrase, "Eat, drink and be scary."