'I hope it brings them happiness'; local Halloween displays delight community
If you’re driving along the Kenai Spur Highway toward Soldotna, you may see a sign advertising the “Halloween House.” Follow the sign, and you will see another next to Joe the skeleton, who is resting in his lawn chair. Hook a left and keep your eye out for the house, you can’t miss it.
Dozens of skeletons, tombstones, bones and more are scattered around the yard in the most festive way imaginable. Come at night and you will see a strobe light and music show centered around this year’s theme: werewolves versus skeletons.
“Some people have a vacation budget, we have a Halloween decoration budget,” said Christa Chelini, owner of the Halloween House. She and her husband, Eric Pruett, say this is their fourth year decorating their home for Halloween.
The couple began setting up this year’s Halloween display in early September. They say they have seen hundreds of pedestrians and motorists throughout the community stop to enjoy their display.
“I love that no matter how old you are, Halloween is so encompassing of fun for everybody of all ages,” Chelini said. “I think it’s just an excuse for everybody to have fun.”
“You never see anyone sad on Halloween really, everyone is always excited to see it,” Pruett added. “It’s just a fun, weird, quirky holiday.”
Because of the fame of the Halloween House, nearby neighbors have also begun decorating for the spooky season. Some have even pitched ideas to the couple for next year’s display.
“I’m personally hoping for the future for our kids, as they get older, to want to go out there on Friday and Saturday nights and just be a live-action scary display,” Chelini said. “That’s my hope, that’s my goal for my children in life, to become part of the Halloween decorations and scare people as they’re walking by.”
Just off of K-Beach Road is another home that’s just as festive. Smoke and fog hang low in the sky as you approach. Follow the plume and you will find Makenzie Jorgensen’s Halloween display of tiki torches, fog machines and animatronics.
“I love this neighborhood and I want to represent this neighborhood, so I try to go all out and show it off,” Jorgensen said. “It’s kind of something I started small and it’s getting bigger and bigger, and I still don’t think this is enough.”
One of Jorgensen’s favorite pieces in his display is a real chainsaw accompanied by a plastic, bloodied leg. His neighbor gifted him the chainsaw after accidentally running it over with his tractor. While it no longer works for its intended purpose, the chainsaw still idles, adding a unique effect to his setup.
Since Jorgensen began decorating his home for Halloween a little over five years ago, he’s noticed that many of his decorations only last a few seasons. He’s had to throw out many of his battery-powered decorations because the cold has deteriorated them. He is considering building his own animatronics in the future.
“That’s always the challenge in Alaska with all of this stuff,” Jorgensen said. “The animatronics, you’ll be lucky if you get a couple of seasons out of them with the freezing cold, sometimes the snow, sometimes the rain. This stuff does not last as long as I’d like.”
Chelini and Pruett added that the Alaska autumns can make breaking down their display a challenge. Because of the October snowfall last year, some of their skeleton decorations stayed up until spring. They hope that the community will be able to enjoy their seasonal display for years to come.
“I hope it brings them happiness and fun, I hope they tell their friends about it like ‘oh my god’, and then more people get to see it,” Pruett said. “I hope it brings them happiness.”
Both households plan to grow their Halloween displays larger every year.