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The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

Halloween to the extreme

Pumpkins, scary cutouts and lights – the three basic Halloween decorations. For some, this is more than enough. But for Halloween enthusiasts, these decorations are not nearly as fulfilling.
Anna Greenlee
Skeletons haunt the entrance to a home on Brown Deer Trail.

Sources in this article remain anonymous due to privacy reasons.



When someone says “The Halloween House,” many trick-or-treaters think of a home on their street that boasts lights, cobwebs or pumpkins. Driving around town, anyone can find many houses that are decorated for the holiday, but what really catches eye and makes memories is the extreme.


12th Avenue 

The house on 12th Avenue is famous for its various inflatables. (Anna Greenlee)

On 12th Avenue lies one of the most festive houses in town with a longstanding tradition of decorating, making it very popular for trick-or-treaters. Its popularity might also be due to the king-sized candy bars they hand out on Halloween night.

The house is decorated annually with inflatables, such as a dragon, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and even the Fortnite Battle Bus. The large tree in the front yard has orange string lights dangling from the branches down to the roots. Though it takes lots of work to set all of it up, around 17-18 hours this year, the owners enjoy it and know the community does too.

“We enjoy [decorating]. We’re both big kids…I think I’m making it fun for the kids,” the owners said.

Though it’s kept family-friendly for the children, adults can enjoy the fun too. Many people have approached the owners to tell them how much joy the decor has brought them over the 15 years they’ve come to the house. Some have even said they’ll bring their own children to trick-or-treat there when they’re older.


Brown Deer Road 

Brown Deer Road homeowners emphasize the use of skeletons when they decorate. (Anna Greenlee)

Only a couple of turns away, on Brown Deer Road, lies a passionate resident who strives to take Halloween decor to the next level. She’s been in the area since 2004 but has only decorated for the past four years.

Even though she only recently started decorating, she has been immersed in the holiday since youth. “Halloween is something that I’ve always loved, it’s my favorite holiday. I used to volunteer at haunted houses when I was in high school. I grew up in Cedar Falls, and so that’s kind of where it started,” she said.

You kind of get to explore a lot of things – you can just do whatever you want – there’s no restrictions as far as how scary you can be or how bloody or gory and things like that. So I was kind of intrigued and it just brings up more of that creative side.


When she got married and found a new home in Coralville, she began planning out different decoration ideas.
“…my husband is also interested as it turns out, and so between the two of us I feel like we have a lot of ideas that we want to bring forward and have a good time doing it. We also enjoy sharing our Halloween decorations and activities with our friends and family and so it’s just blossomed into this.”

As decorating for Halloween each year became a habit for the couple, people took notice and offered their insights.
“It’s interesting because now that people know how much we love Halloween day, they bring ideas to us too. So our friends and coworkers will be like, ‘Hey, I saw this, what do you think?’”

The two spend about a month and a half total decorating outside and inside, taking inspiration from online resources.

“Especially if we have something in mind, we’re not really quite sure how to bring it to life. We’ll kind of look up some YouTube videos and see if there’s any good instructions on making props or how to make things stand up straight for a long time.”


Brown Deer Trail 

The house on Brown Deer Trail features an extravagant display of a skeleton graveyard. (Anna Greenlee)

On Brown Deer Trail there’s another house plagued with skeletons and ghouls, but these can move and speak. Using his knowledge of computers, animatronics and projectors, the owner is able to make ghosts fly and skeletons dance. “I do computer work and so much of what I do, you can’t really see. So I like projects where there’s a physical representation,” he said.

When they moved here 20 years ago he had put up Christmas lights and a Santa during the winter to the protest of his wife. “[She] said no, no, no. You can’t do this. She thought maybe I would put something garish out. I said ‘Fine. I won’t put anything up. But, on the off chance, what about Halloween?’” Since it’s the holiday for garish decorations, his wife let him decorate however he liked. So every year, he added a new skeleton, a new fog machine or a new projection through a window.

“Every year it kind of builds on itself. [This year] I kinda wanted to go with motion. I wanted to learn a little bit of animatronics.” Their yard is decorated with gravestones and moving skeletons to look like a graveyard. The animatronics range from a mummy, a grave-digging skeleton and a talking vampire hanging from their roof.

Though the time and money spent on their front yard was enormous, it was worth it in the end. “This year, I was messing with this stuff for eight months. Got a little out of hand,” the owner said. Though the time is great, the cost was kept to a minimum by recycling old parts from projects and getting materials discounted from the junkyard. “I like the challenge and I am too cheap to spend that money on anything, no matter what I did,” he said.

All 3 houses have a different approach to decorations. But whether spooky or silly, extreme or tame, they all bring the community together and spread the Halloween spirit.

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About the Contributors
Anna Greenlee, Graphics Editor
Anna is a sophomore in her first year on staff. She's the graphics editor for the WSS website, as well as part of the school's band, theatre and sophomore volleyball team. But on her off time, she likes to watch movies (which make her cry really easily), cook, bake, paint and go water- or snow-skiing with family.
Haneen Eltyeb, Videographer
(She/her) Haneen is a junior and this is her first year on WSS staff, working as a videographer. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies (then overanalyzing them), learning about the latest cyber attacks, fixing jewelry and spending time with friends and family.
Evelyn Kraber, Assistant Copy Editor
(She/they) Evelyn is a sophomore, and this is her first year on staff. She is the assistant copy editor for the website. In her free time, you could find her reading, baking, playing cello, painting or spending time with her family.
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