My brother has always been extremely talented but seeing the streams of cars and kids flow past his house last night, even before the lights were on, really brought that fact home for me.
Our dad loved Halloween. I remember the elaborate group costumes that he, Mom, and their friends would put together for the Halloween dance in Bamfield. But before we moved to a house that, by it’s nature of being water access only and even more removed from the already remote town, was a deterrent to trick-or-treaters - and before I was born - Dad focused his efforts on terrorizing children who came to his door.
As it’s been told to me, after ringing the doorbell and collecting their candy, the kids would turn to leave and our dad, dressed as Dracula would slowly sit up, opening the lid of a coffin that everyone had thought was just a ghoulish decoration. The kids would scream and run away. Dad loved it.
As I mention, I never got to experience this part of our dad’s Halloween revelry because I wasn’t born yet. But a few years ago my brother started to decorate his house for Halloween. And he didn’t just decorate it, but he began designing and custom building his own props.
Chris has always been creative, and a talented artist. I still cherish a book of poetry that he gave me for Christmas when we were kids. Not only did he write all of it but each page is full of illustrations and colour. I remember when we spent some time in Mexico one year, Dad bought him pottery plates and paints from the artists in the market and he covered them with metal themes and grim reapers - it was the 80’s, not a cry for help!
Chris started with a few Halloween themed creations, but the year following our dad’s passing, he really put his time and energy into it. Now his front yard become transformed into a misty cemetery where grave stones move, ghost guitars light up, and witches stir their cauldrons. Elvis’ headstone is among them - a dedication to our dad. Creating and building is so natural for him that he built his terrifying pumpkin man out of left over pieces. He says he just looked at what he had and could envision exactly what it would be.
Chris has created more than a hobby for himself, and more than a dedication to our dad’s love of Halloween. Through this, he has built community. Neighbours, friends, and family have all lent a hand when needed, from mounting the two life-size flying witches to the roof to going in a as a group and buying Chris the, also life-size, skeleton horse to go with the hearse carriage. And last year, when they ran out of candy, Chris’s other sister ran up the road with reinforcements.
Last night, we arrived early, before he and his wife and daughter had arrive home from there day. As we sat there in the dark families began arriving to see the spectacle. The lights weren’t on yet and nothing was moving but no one seemed to mind. The kids looked at every bit of the display, pointing out exciting things they would see to their parents. By the time Chris got home and the power was connected, the were kids enthralled by it. I overheard one little girls say, “but Mom, I want to go inside.” Her mom tried to explain to her that it wasn’t actually a haunter house, but her imagination - much like my brother’s - was having none of it.
If you happen to be in Coquitlam tonight, take a cruise down Don Moore Drive. You can’t miss it!