For the past 15 or 20 years, Chris and Christa Allison have been decorating their family home for Halloween with the help of their daughters Odessa and Octavia. What began as a small family hobby has blossomed into a tradition that takes up the better part of Chris’s free time from summer onwards to amaze the trick-or-treaters on Robin Drive in Elmira.
Chris got things rolling by creating large wooden cutouts in the shape of Halloween creatures such as witches, and then painting them. Now it has grown with the addition of a graveyard, all handcrafted and painted, with lights around the fence.
This year Chris figured it was as good as any to step up the display – a neighbour even challenged him to make it the best production yet. Many kids may be staying at home this year but are encouraged to drive by and check out the display.
“It’s kind of a hobby – I kind of do it on the side. I mean, if I did it all at once, it probably takes a couple days. Maybe a week. Cut it out, paint it, all of that,” explained Chris of the creative process.
“When it gets towards the end of the summer, then I all of a sudden … I’m kind of a guy that I don’t really procrastinate, but the pressure, I kind of like the pressure, so I’m forced through them really quick,” he added of how things come together each year.
The love for Halloween may be shared at the Allison residence, but the family doesn’t participate in ‘family costumes.’
“That’s one thing we never do,” Christa joked.
Last year for the family’s annual Halloween party, the couple dressed up as characters from The Exorcist. In the family garage, they have an array of costumes, and Polaroids from past parties, souvenirs of their detailed efforts.
Favourite costumes in the household include Christa as the bride of Frankenstein, Chris’s tribute costume to the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie, Octavia’s turn as Johnny Depp and an alien with 15 eyes.
In addition to storing items from the Halloween party, the cutouts every year have claimed the family’s back yard shed. “We can always make it better it is just a matter of storing things,” said Chris.
“We enjoy making them if we can, and I find that the store-bought ones, they’re kind of cheap,” said Chris.
“It’s part of the fun to go and pick it all out, find all of the different parts to it,” added Octavia.
With all the hard work put into the attraction, the family says even if no one comes trick-or-treating, they are glad they made the effort. The family has purchased candy to hand it, items they’ll be distributing in a way that ensures physical distancing will be maintained.
Having had to take a pass on may activities this year, the family wasn’t parting ways with the Halloween traditions.
“Everybody’s missed out on so much extra stuff this year, and this is one thing we always do,” said Octavia of the importance of this year’s display during the COVID-19 pandemic.