Halloween home decor of Claremont

Every summer as neighbors are off at the beach or basking in the sun, Lenny Davis is busy at work, his mind set on the fall and his Halloween trinkets. His hours of hard work come to fruition every October when the Davis home on 999 Scripps Drive is decked out with a motorized casket, pirates and handcrafted barbed wire fencing, effectively transforming the home into a pirate graveyard. A fog machine and a TV playing the original Dracula on Halloween night will complete the look.

As seasonal Halloween warehouses continue to gain popularity, Claremont residents like the Davises are proving that elaborate house decorating is no longer restricted to the elves and reindeers. In Claremont, the ghouls and grim reapers rule, too. House decorating provides a dual purpose for Mr. Davis—a therapeutic, creative outlet and source of joy in sharing his passion with others.

“Seeing kids come by every night [to see the display] just reminds me of how excited I got as a child, and the memories they will have for years to come,” Mr. Davis said.

Mr. Davis is happy to continue in the traditions started by his parents, the previous owners of the house he, his wife and kids now inhabit. Neighbors know they can expect a good show at the Davis home come holiday season, something that makes the chief decorator feel pretty good.

“They know my decorations better than I do!” he laughed.

His passion for decorating began as a childhood fascination with a motorized Christmas display at a house near Claremont’s Chaparral Elementary School. Every year the garage was cleaned out and transformed into an animated elf workshop, Mr. Davis described.

“I was totally amazed,” he recalled.

The experience stuck with him into adulthood and after he got married, Mr. Davis began scouring the Internet for resources to start making his own motorized displays. While the decorations began with Christmas, Mr. Davis soon began designing displays for his wife’s favorite holiday, Halloween. Now the whole family is jumping in on the experience.

“We are kids at heart,” said his wife Kelley. “It’s fun to see the whole neighborhood get excited.”

The Halloween decorations have included a lot of trial-and-error for Mr. Davis, but if there were any challenges, they have seemed to bend in his favor. The squeak of the door when the handcrafted casket opens, for example, was unintentional but provided the perfect finish to the design.

A few streets down on Syracuse Drive, the Rhodes children eagerly anticipate adding to their yearly Halloween display. House decorating for the spooky season has become a fun-filled family activity for the family of 5, who make a yearly family outing of visiting the local Halloween warehouse.

“My parents are very competitive,” said eldest daughter Grace, 10. “We want to have the spookiest house!”

But Grace is quick to come up with silly names for the scary figures that inhabit their lawn at Halloween like “Banana-quat” for the creepy mummy by the doorstep. It’s so her little sister, 6-year-old Lucy, doesn’t get scared, she says. However, Lucy doesn’t seem to show any hesitation when it comes to the Halloween props.

“I like to pretend the skulls can talk,” she said.

The Rhodes look forward to trick-or-treating—Grace as Minnie Mouse, Lucy as Dorothy and Everett, 2, as a pirate—and shocking fellow trick-or-treaters with their motion-sensitive display creatures, the crown jewels of their 4-year collection.

The Raczok family down the street has been adding to their yearly setup for the past 9 years, happy to dedicate the needed storage space to satisfy their thrill for sparkling orange lights and spider webs.

“It’s a way to enjoy my favorite season,” said Lisa Raczok, as she took a break from adjusting decorations along her front walkway. With the slightest trace of the fall season, Ms. Raczok and family go into full Halloween mode, ready to roll out their pumpkins and mock graveyard for eager Claremont trick-or-treaters. With the start of the Halloween decorating comes the promise of the Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating to come.

“It starts off the season,” she said.

—Beth Hartnett



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