Spookiness on the Southside

Local families decorate their lawns and homes to help others enjoy an exciting, yet socially distanced Halloween

By Nancy Price

COVID may have altered plans for many children used to celebrating Halloween by visiting haunted houses, attending community activities or trick-or-treating. Yet, some local families are helping to bring back the holiday spirit in a thrilling, yet socially distanced way.

They entertain their neighbors and other Southsiders driving past their homes to check out the decorations on the outside of their homes and yards; 12-foot skeletons, menacing ghosts, floating witches, coffins and even Jason from Friday the 13th leering from an upstairs window.

“We originally started with a small graveyard around the tree,” said Vicky Richards, who lives at 5336 Choctaw Ridge Way in Franklin Township. “Every year it seems to progress with a little more. We were kind of known for our spiderweb for 15 years. And then every year we add something different.”

T.J. and Vicky Richards are dwarfed by 12-foot skeletons. (Photo by Paul Young)

Vicky and her husband, T.J. Richards, have four skeletons that look like they’re climbing the side of the house, a graveyard with headstones and dismembered body parts, dressed-up skeletons carrying a coffin, two towering 12-foot skeletons, a giant spiderweb, large spiders perched on the home, in webs and all around a corpse, ghosts peering from every window and the illusion of a giant lit pumpkin.

The family typically starts decorating about a week before Halloween, however, this year, their son encouraged them to start at the end of September. Each day the family adds something new to their display until it’s complete. “The anticipation of what’s next keeps people on edge,” Vicky said.

She added that families will sometimes ask if they can take pictures of themselves next to the skeletons. “It’s fun to peek out the window and watch people get out of their car and take pictures,” she said.

skeletons dressed in fine attire carry a coffin while ghosts appear in windows. (Photo by Paul Young)

“We’ve had some families say, ‘this is our third time out to your house (for the day),’” T.J. said.

Teri Combass of 904 Main Street in Beech Grove has been decorating for Halloween since she’s owned her own home. She and her husband, Wes Combass have a graveyard in their lawn with skeletons; floating witches, hats and candles; blowup ghouls, an organ player, a hanging soulless girl, a medusa, dragon on the roof, crows, spider webs and witches.

Her daughter-in-law Kristen Hutchison helped out this year. It’s a family affair. Teri continues the tradition for Halloween decorating that her mother started. “The witches, the ghosts and trick-or-treater are the ones my mother made for me about 35 years ago and the first ones I started with,” she said.

Wes and Teri Beth Combass’s home and lawn in Beech Grove includes floating witches, an organ player, a hanging soulless girl, a medusa and dragon on the roof. (Photo by Brian Ruckle)

The Beech Grove community certainly seems to appreciate the family’s efforts. “I get everything from horns blowing, people clapping and plenty of compliments and I love it all and I enjoy seeing the children’s faces,” Terri said.

Paul and Amey Young of 7905 Ithaca Way in Franklin Township enjoy creating their own decorations. Amey makes wreaths or pumpkin sculptures, while Paul creates set pieces. He made the fence for the graveyard displayed in their yard. Last year, he created a long tunnel out of a series of gothic arches.

Every year the Youngs include something different in their display. “This year we have a haunted graveyard,” Paul said. “Next year I plan to go with a full haunted house. Amey has tubs of decorations and we get a few new ones every year.”

Paul and Amey Young of Franklin Township create wreaths and pumpkin sculpture and set pieces, including a fence for the graveyard in their yard. (Photo by Paul Young)

“We are most proud of the decorations that we craft ourselves,” Paul said. “It’s more fun to give it your all and have a display that turns heads.”