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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

13 Days of Halloween: The scariest yard display?

click to enlarge Centi-pumpkin? Jack-o-pede?
  • Centi-pumpkin? Jack-o-pede?

So far 13 Days of Halloween has beheld scary things (movie trailers, short stories, TV shows, songs, etc.) from a safe distance. Some of the spookiest, most creative visions of the year, however, might be on view right down the street from you at this very moment. The past couple of decades have seen Halloween lawn displays evolve from modest Jack-o-Lanterns to sprawling, grisly spectacles worthy of professional haunted houses like Netherworld. Down the street from my mother-in-law's home in Chamblee, for instance, you can see a giant-sized spider surrounded by fake human bones (at least, I hope they're fake) in an otherwise nondescript neighborhood.

Given that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting morbid yard art this time of year, What's the best local Halloween display you know? Email photos of the scariest or most imaginative outdoor decorations at -- if you dare! -- and we'll make an on-line slideshow of them worthy of "Night Gallery." It's your chance to can take your monstrous front-lawn tableau viral and scare exponentially more people.

I'm still not sure, though, why enormous holiday decorations -- at Halloween, Christmas and more -- have become so common. It used to be that in most neighborhoods, maybe one or two beloved eccentrics would go out with the home-made seasonal artwork. Now it seems like every other house on a given street will be festooned with oversized novelty inflatables. Such products are more common and affordable now, but that can't be the only reason. Does stem from the same childhood-nostalgia impulse that inspires people to decorate the workplace cubicles with action figures?

The timing seems to coincide with the rise of the Internet: my theory is that as people spend more time with on-line communities, they're neighborhood relationships may have slacked off. Turning your yard into a ghoulish but playful spectacle might be a way of making a statement in your community. I'm open to other explanations, of course.

Photo by Joeff Davis

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