Dot McCord of Pontotoc catches the spirit of the holiday each year, and her yard reflects it.
Her collection of inflatable decorations includes precious black cats, orange pumpkins and white ghosts, as well as death, itself, pulling a hearse, and a skeleton conducting a train bound for the depths of you-know-where.
“We didn’t get many trick-or-treaters out here until we started putting out our Halloween decorations,” McCord said. “Last year, I forget how many bags of candy we had, but it was a lot. We didn’t have any left.”
McCord’s fascination for the spooky season is geared toward children. That includes her own great-grandchildren and all the others attracted to her home.
“I’ve always liked Halloween,” the 74-year-old said, “but the biggest thing since I’ve gotten older is I enjoy the children. They’re so happy. It means a lot to them.”
She has about 20 different inflatables, and buys new ones on sale after Halloween to be ready for the next year.
“We start putting it all up on Oct. 1 and take them down on Nov. 1,” McCord said.
That’s when she converts to Thanksgiving, which is really a place-holder for Christmas, when McCord and her husband James empty a pair of storage buildings.
“Of course, Christmas is my time,” she said. “I love Christmas, but this is fun, too.”
Ghosts and ghouls
You won’t find any inflatable decorations at Nichola Wright’s house in Tupelo, but it’s still a spooky sight.
“One year, we didn’t do it and got swamped,” she said. “People were like, ‘What happened?’”
Ghouls, ghosts and witches hang from the trees, while large and small skeletons have run of the yard. There’s a pirate skeleton chained to a tree, and another climbing out of the ground. The display has become a tradition for her husband, Mike, and their 12-year-old son, Andrew.
“They have to place everything just right,” she said. “It’s very particular where each piece goes.”
On Halloween, speakers will blast out scary sounds, and strobe lights will play with the senses. There’s a chance someone will be hidden behind a tree, so look out or you’ll get a fright.
“We mix it up every year,” Wright said, “so the kids don’t know what to expect.”
On the inside
Brandy and Lance Evans’ New Albany home has a little graveyard in the flower bed. Cobwebs on the front porch frame a black cat with a pumpkin. But the real show is inside the house.
Black lace, cobwebs, spiders, pumpkins, witches and assorted bones are artfully arranged. It’s Goth meets Martha Stewart.
“This is just for pure fun,” Brandy Evans said. “I didn’t do as much before the kids.”
Evans keeps an eye out for unusual pieces, and friends call her when they spot something unique. She goes for creepy, but not gory and bloody.
“I don’t want to scare them,” Evans said.
Her children, Katie, 8, and Landon, 3, start asking about decorating time as Halloween gets closer.
“I get a lot of ideas from magazines,” Evans said.
Adults have fun with the Halloween ambiance, too.
“We dress up and have a costume Bunco,” said Evans, who creates Halloween-themed food for the event.
A little gore
Patrick Ross and Jimmy Blaylock, both of Tupelo, steer clear of cute when decorating their homes.
Ross lives across the street from Joyner Elementary School, so students can see spider webs, snakes and bats, as well as Freddy Krueger, Al Capone and Baby Jane.
It’s an eerie view, even during the day. He’s buried lights underground to brighten and frighten the night.
“Before I put it out, I didn’t get very many trick-or-treaters,” he said. “Now, I get a lot. Some of the people say, ‘Thank you,’ for putting it up.”
Blaylock looks to TV for inspiration at his east Tupelo home.
“We love ‘The Walking Dead’ on AMC,” he said. “It’s the best show on television.”
Throughout October, decaying zombies take over his yard, among other things.
“We have a spider web and I kept thinking it was missing something,” “Blaylock said, “so we went out and bought two big spiders. Much better.”
Blaylock and the rest were quick to say their decorations were for the kids, and maybe they were telling the truth.
But not the whole truth.
“I admit,” Blaylock said with a chuckle, “it’s a lot of fun.”
Michaela Morris contributed to this story.