Creepy, Kooky Halloween Decorations

Frightening ghosts, goblins and ghouls ... all in the name of FUN!

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Gary Crislip sets lights out and makes adjustments to the Halloween display at the family home on Montgomery Street.

The mixture of fright and fun represented by Halloween drives a select number of households in Marietta to extreme measures.

Take, for example, Gary and Sandy Crislip. Their home at 409 E. Montgomery St. is an ordinary two-story frame house north of downtown on a quiet cross-street, but during October it becomes the jewel of the neighborhood, with an inflatable black cat occupying center stage their front yard. An inflatable archway with menacing teeth rises around the porch entrance, and the yard is wild with witches and jack-o-lanterns. A massive spider clings to the wall over a window facing the street and a skeleton sits in a coffin next to a tree by the curb. Everything is knit together with cobwebs and ready to be plugged in when the sun sets.

“The more lights, the better,” Sandy said.

In past years, they’ve placed coffins by the sidewalk from which their nieces leaped to frighten passing costumed beggars on the big evening.

“One woman nearly collapsed,” Sandy recalled. “We had to watch her until she started breathing normally.”

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Inflatable spooks, jack-o-lanterns and other Halloween decorations crowd the small yard at the home of Gary and Sandy Crislip on Montgomery Street.

The couple used to put out zombies, she said, but their clothing kept getting stolen. At one time it would take two or three days to set up the front of the property. Now, they do it in one.

The Crislips have lived in the house for 18 years, but their affection for Halloween decorations goes into the distant past.

“We used to live in New Matamoras, but no one there except us ever did anything big for Halloween,” she said.

The Marietta neighborhood is a bit more lively in the fall. Gary said the neighbors also decorate elaborately, and all of them sit out on their porches to greet their costumed visitors.

“The gent next door had a hearse, and last year when he moved away, he gave it to us,” he said.

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times A life-sized witch and a raven perched on a cauldron will greet visitors on Halloween Night at the Winebrenner household on Second Street.

The children who come by the Saturday before Halloween number in the hundreds, he said. Importantly, he hopes the weather forecast looks good for the end of the month.

“It was kind of damp last year,” he said.

The couple delights in seeing children respond to the elaborate landscape in the small yard.

“It’s for the kids, and you’re never too old for Halloween,” said Sandy, 67. “I guess I’ve just never really grown up.”

A few blocks away, at 719 Second St., Bill and Andy Winebrenner’s home was still a work in progress this week. A big inflatable horse-drawn pumpkin carriage with a skeleton at the reins dominated the yard, and a full-sized robotic witch standing over a cauldron, cackling and making smart remarks, greets visitors coming up on the porch. A red-eyed raven gazed down the walkway from its perch on the cauldron, which steamed and smoked.

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Toddler Grant Roberts investigates some of the Halloween decorations at the home of his grandparents, Bill and Andy Winebrenner, on Second Street.

“We try to do something different every year,” Andy said, looking around at the work. Skeletons, she said, remain to be added to the tableau, seated in the rocking chairs on the porch.

It’s the Winebrenners’ third year in Marietta, she said. They lived in Stockport before but moved to save Bill the daily commute to his job in Marietta.

“We’ve done this since the kids were little, and now they’re in college,” she said. They normally hand out treats to at least 100 visitors, she said, although last year the weather and attractive Halloween events downtown slowed traffic somewhat.

“We had about 30,” she said. “I do bags of treats, and this year I’ll have at least 100.”

Costumes aren’t confined to visitors.

“I’m going to dress up as a witch from Hocus-Pocus, you know, the Bette Midler one,” she said.

Brian and Jodi Stack came to Marietta six years ago from Oklahoma, and the city’s enthusiasm for Halloween was a pleasant surprise for the couple, particularly Jodi.

“We were living in a suburb and just got the kids from the neighborhood on Halloween,” she said. “When we moved here we got a place on Washington Street, and the first Halloween I think we had like 700 or 800 kids, it was just overwhelming and I loved it.”

They now live on Fifth Street and with Halloween still more than two weeks away, the porch is festooned with jack-o-lanterns, headstones and lights, with a luminous sign reading BOO! attached to the wall facing the street.

“We have a ridiculous amount of decorations out there, and that doesn’t even include the inside,” she said.

She said she got the Halloween bug when her children were young – they’re grown now – and never lost it.

“I love it, with the kids coming around, dressed up, I really look forward to it,” she said. “The decorations look a lot cooler at night.”

Trick-or-treat times

– Marietta, Beverly: Saturday, Oct. 27 6:30 to 8 p.m.

– Barlow,Vincent, New Matamoras: Saturday, Oct. 27 6 to 7:30 p.m.

– Belpre, Parkersburg, Vienna: Tuesday, Oct 30 6 to 7:30 p.m.

– Williamstown: Tuesday,Oct. 30, 6:30 to 8 p.m.