The Neat Retreat: Taking Halloween To The Extreme

Suzanne Oliver
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Mark Lomax as Frankenstein poses next to his animatronic witch stirring a cauldron.

Image: Max Lomax, as Frankenstein, poses next to an animatronic witch stirring a cauldron.

This Neat Retreat is all about my favorite holiday — Halloween. Every year, I look forward to that intoxicating smell of candy corn. Honestly, I have more Halloween decorations than I do for Christmas. It’s a sickness really.

I aspire to be the fanatic who throws the annual blowout, draping every inch of my yard and my home’s interior with chilling décor. When October rolls around, I want my family and friends to demand an invite, anticipating all the fearsome fun to be had.

I talked with two Home Depot customers and pried into their holiday preparations. They set the standard high and might just inspire your own All Hallow’s Eve.

A Party To Die For

This Halloween, 100 guests will descend upon Rhonda Winn's garage for a howling good time.Image: 100 guests descend upon Rhonda Winn’s garage for a howling good time.

This year, Rhonda Winn of Cedar Rapids, Ohio will devote two weeks to decorating for her annual Halloween bash. It is, after all, her favorite holiday. Last year, 100 guests clamored for an invite to her costume party.

Armed with an appetizer and a bottle of wine, the ghouls and guys were greeted with a homemade graveyard in front and luminaries circling the driveway. Frankenstein and a pumpkin, two large inflatables, also hinted at the festivities inside the garage.

Winn transformed the utilitarian space using black tarps, black lights, life-size mummies, fake blood and countless spooky accents. An interior designer by trade, this party hostess is adept at arranging tablescapes and backdrops. She even hired a bartender and awarded prizes for the best costumes.

Winn, right, requests that everyone show up in costume to her party — with or without a head.

Image: Winn, at right, requests that everyone show up in costume to her party — with or without a head.

 

Winn transforms her garage with black tarps, spiderwebs, black lights, hanging skeletons and ghouls.

Image: Winn transforms her garage with black tarps, spiderwebs, black lights, hanging skeletons and ghouls.

Butchering The Lawn

Fourteen years ago, Mark Lomax of Denver, Colo. moved into his corner lot and began the tedious process of turning his front lawn into a haunted cemetery. He’s added on year after year, enticing onlookers and more than 150 trick-or-treaters. “Our yard is the spectacle of the neighborhood,” he says.

Lomax's entire yard is brimming with gravestones and ghosts. Plus the lights and fog machine are timed to music.

 Image: Lomax’s entire yard is brimming with gravestones and ghosts. The lights and fog machine are timed to music.

Lomax and his daughters Elara (age 10) and Erika (age 8) spend two days putting up all the decorations, some store bought, some handmade with a tool kit of PVC, Styrofoam, paint, extension cords, wire, glue and wood. He even has lights and a fog machine timed to music. All the plug-in props do add to the electric bill, he says, but it’s worth it.

Lomax has a flying Grim Reaper surveying his property.

Image: Lomax’s flying Grim Reaper surveys his property.

 

 

Lomax handmade this life-size werewolf as well as the headstones.

 

 Image: Lomax handmade this life-size werewolf as well as the headstones.

 

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