Each year, Lance Kelderman looks for something else to add to the cemetery he’s created in his front yard.
Halloween is Kelderman’s favorite holiday. He decided to start decorating for the holiday when the family moved into their Norwalk house about six years ago.
Since that time, the Halloween display has grown every year. It now includes a graveyard contained within black stakes, some of which have “blood” on the tips of them; caution tape around certain scenes; lots of cobwebs and a large spider; rats; about 15 headstones, some of which have zombies or skeletons coming out of the ground in front of them; other skulls placed here and there; motion detectors that play scary music; and a large ghost/Grim Reaper figure that hangs above the front door to warn would-be guests, “Beware! Enter at your own risk!”
Kelderman’s fascination with scary Halloween decorations started when he worked in retail and was in charge of the store’s decorations.
“Halloween has always been my favorite holiday,” he says. “I’ve always liked scary movies and all of that stuff.”
Kelderman says he tries to add something new to his display every year. He started setting up the cemetery display toward the end of September with the help of son Tyler, 9.
“He enjoys it, which is awesome, because, obviously, I enjoy it,” Kelderman says of his son.
This year, Kelderman hopes he and a neighbor can construct a coffin that he’ll set into the ground and have some sort of skeleton or zombie sticking out of it. He also has plans to replace some of his Styrofoam headstones with wooden ones, so they’re more durable.
Once the headstones are set, Kelderman lays out the skeletons, zombie head, hands and other body parts. He’ll add dirt around them to make it appear more as though they’re coming out of the ground. Some graves get cobwebs and spotlights on them at night. It takes about five hours from start to finish to complete the display, he says.
Wife Becky’s idea of decorating for Halloween is a little different. She likes cute pumpkins with smiley faces. Her decorations have been assigned to inside the house only.
“He doesn’t even like the door open; he doesn’t want people to see the cutesy stuff,” she says with a laugh. “He just wants them to see the scary stuff. Even my 9-year-old is like, ‘Come on, Mom. That pumpkin has a smile on its face.’ ”
The Kelderman house is known as the “scary house” in the neighborhood. “Everybody who comes here knows we’re going after scary,” he says.
Tyler likes it so much that he’ll cut his trick-or-treating short so he can hand out candy at home and see other kids’ reactions to the family’s decorating. He laughs as he recalls the time he sat very still dressed in black wearing the “Scream” mask on the family’s porch and then jumped up and scared prospective trick-or-treaters.
Sometimes kids don’t even make it to the front door.
“You usually have to go down and hand the candy to them, don’t you?” Kelderman says to his son.
The display has become so well known that some just come by to have their pictures taken with the graveyard.
Kelderman usually dresses up to add to the effect. One year, he was Jason Voorhees from the “Friday the 13th” movies. He bought the mask but made the rest of his costume including a bloody steak knife. Becky was a victim and wore torn clothing with fake blood on it.
Another time, Lance was a skeleton. He shaved his head, and a friend who is an artist painted it like a skull, complete with the appropriate shading and cracks.
He says he not sure yet what he’ll be this year. “It will be scary, though,” he says. “I don’t do much other than scary.”
Becky says she hopes the scariness isn’t too much for their daughter, Avery, 2. “It’s a little much, but it’s fun for the boys,” she says.
Not too far from the Kelderman house, D.J. and Kubysa Edwards have built their own small cemetery with the help of their three children.
Kubysa says the family built most of the items, specifically the headstones, from scratch a couple of years ago because they thought it would be a fun family activity to do together.
The cemetery contains a few stones with bloody body parts strewn about — one of the stones reads “Red Rum” from the movie “The Shining” — a Grim Reaper figure, cobwebs and more.
“The kids enjoyed it,” Kubysa says. “We just keep getting more stuff every year to add to it.”
The couple’s children, Karter, 9, Skyler, 7, and Ryker, 2, all like to dress up. Kubysa says sometimes they make the kids’ costumes; other times they purchase them depending on what the kids want to be that year.
Last year, the family made portions of Karter’s bride of Frankenstein costume. D.J. was in charge of his daughter’s face paint, which included a white base with stitches and blood. Karter’s costume won second place at the Halloween dance at her school.
This year, she plans to be a genie, and brother Skyler wants to be a werewolf. The family will make his costume. Youngest brother Ryker hasn’t yet decided what he wants to be.
Making your own
Halloween costumes are getting easier to make with the help of the Internet and idea-generating sites like www.pinterest.com.
Some people create their own costumes because it can be cheaper, while others don’t like the selection at the local party store and prefer to be more creative on their own. Whatever the reason may be, there are hundreds — if not thousands — of do-it-yourself ideas for costumes, some of which are so simple one can pull the items out of their closet.
Among the most popular do-it-yourself costume ideas for 2011 were zombie; the characters from the “Twilight” movies; singers Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Amy Winehouse; and pirates.
Easy ideas, pulled from a variety of Internet sources, that require little work or purchase of items include:
• Going as smarty pants: Take a belt and attached Smarties candy to it. If you want to go the extra mile, wear one of your old mortarboards – if you don’t have one, borrow one from a friend – and grab a pair of old glasses and stick a piece of tape on the nosepiece.
• Using balloons: Get purple or green balloons and pin them to a similar-colored outfit to go as a cluster of grapes. For a boy, put on a pair of swim trunks, pin white balloons to the trunks to use as bubbles. Add a bath towel and a scrubber, and the child can go as a kid in a bathtub.
• Where’s Waldo: Find a red and white striped sweater or turtleneck with a matching stocking cap, if possible. Add a pair of glasses and blue jeans, and you can become the guy everyone is looking for.
• Got Milk? Take a white T-shirt and a black marker and write “Got Milk?” on it. Then use corn starch and cold cream to create a milk mustache. Carry a milk carton for added effect.
• Owl: For a child or adult, cut owl “feathers” from shades of gray or brown fabrics. Sew them in overlapping rows onto an old dress or long-sleeved shirt. Make an owl mask from construction paper or cardstock, and attach to a string. Or use face paint to create an owl look.
• Static cling: Wear mismatched clothes, pin a pant leg or sleeve up and then pin dryer sheets, socks, washcloths and other clothing items to your outfit. Use gel to make your hair stand up as if it had static.
• Spelling bee: Use a black leotard or long-sleeve shirt and make stripes using yellow tape. Add adhesive letters that spell out different words. Use wire hangers and shape into wings. Cover them with plastic bags and secure with glue. Glue two black pipe cleaners onto a black headband.
It’s raining cats and dogs: Dress your child in his or her rain jacket and rain boots. Take an umbrella and attach stuffed cats and dogs to it.