Rosemary and Jim Dougan’s home near the Pelham Arena draws hundreds of visitors each year
BY SAMUEL PICCOLO
Last Thursday morning, Rosemary Dougan was standing on the sidewalk in front of her Haist Street home when a passing car slowed down, the driver peering out the window at her yard. “People are always doing that,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll put on their hazards and stop completely.”
With less than a week before Halloween, nearly every square foot of Dougan’s lawn was covered with some sort of decoration.
A row of inflatable Jack-O-Lanterns lined the edge of her driveway. Other inflatables—the tallest a tree eight feet high—waved gently behind, the collective hum of the fans keeping them afloat audible above the traffic. Freddy Krueger, in nylon more comical than frightening, loomed over Dougan as she spoke.
“It’s just as much my husband Jim as it is me,” she said. “I’ve lived here for thirty-one years, and I always had something, but ever since Jim moved in six years ago things have gotten a lot bigger.”
Jim, who works night shifts at General Motors and was sleeping inside, puts up most of the decorations himself over two full days.
“He really has a vision for it,” said Dougan. “But I’ll enable him, too. I’ll see something new online and get him to look. He does it because he loves the reactions that we get, especially from all of the kids who come by.”
Dougan estimated that each inflatable cost $75 or so, meaning that the value of their Halloween collection stretches into the thousands.
“People always ask, ‘Where do you find the space to store the stuff,’” Dougan said, and then pointed underneath her porch. “We’ve got a cold-storage area down there. A few years ago there was flooding in the basement and we lost a lot of decorations, so now they’re all in totes,” she said.
The Dougans’ Halloween totes are colour-coordinated, and are stacked beside totes of other holidays.
“We do Christmas, Easter, Canada Day, and Thanksgiving. Not Valentine’s Day—though Jim takes me out or gets me flowers,” she said, smiling.
The couple’s Halloween fanaticism seems to be spreading, too. Dougan walked across her driveway to take a look at the house next door, where the front lawn is starting to show signs of another impressive display.
“Tara and Greg haven’t been into it for as long, but their yard already looks great,” said Dougan.
She looked back at her house. In the driveway was a boat filled with skeleton fisherman with skeleton fish hooked on their lines. “Usually Jim keeps the boat somewhere else,” Dougan said. “But this year he thought, ‘The boat is here. Why don’t we use it?’”
Last year, the two had 250 trick-or-treaters come to the door, and this year are ready for as many as 375. Weather-permitting, Dougan says that she and Jim plan to add to the display for Tuesday night.
“We’d like to have some corpses here,” she said, pointing to the ground in front of the house. “I’ll stand out by the driveway, all dressed up. This year, I’ve got a suit with pumpkins on it to wear.”
A few more cars passed by, their drivers staring, evidently astonished at the display.
“People always say, ‘Did Halloween throw-up on your yard?’ I just laugh. I’ve heard people mention our place out in town before. ‘Did you see that crazy house on Haist?’ they’ll ask. And I’ll say, ‘I am the crazy person on Haist.’”