Larry Stanek had 16 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns, a coffin, ghosts, Frankenstein and a blow-up pumpkin in his yard this Halloween.
Stanek, who lives near 25th Street and Cornhusker Road, has been decorating the outside of his house for Halloween for more than 30 years.
According to his mom, Alice Stanek, he’s been doing it for a lot longer.
“When he was a little boy, he made my whole basement a spook house and the neighbors would come over on Halloween to walk through it,” she said. “He’s had it in his blood all these years.”
Stanek takes off work the week before Halloween to get his decorations ready and his pumpkins carved in time for the Halloween festivities.
“We carve up to 17 pumpkins,” he said. “And we try to add something new every year.”
This year, he added a mechanical ghost and lights in the shape of a ghost and skull.
The pumpkins, which take between 30 minutes to an hour to carve, were cleaned and carved within two and a half days this year with the help of his daughter, Catherine.
The father-daughter duo carved an owl, mummy and an American flag (plus several others), which weren’t put on display until dusk on Halloween night.
Stanek said he usually greets between 400 to 500 trick-or-treaters each year, and people often stop to take a second look at the decorations and even use his yard to take photos.
A few miles away in the Blackhawk subdivision, Karen Rowell has also taken to decorating her yard for the spooky season.
While Stanek’s signature decoration are his pumpkins and he puts them out for the one night, Rowell’s signature is skeletons, and they are on display during the whole month of October.
Bones, Sticks and Twiggy, her appropriately named 3-foot skeletons, have garnered a lot of attention in her neighborhood. Each night during the month, Rowell takes the skeletons inside to change their outfit and devises an activity for them to do the next day.
For example, on Oct. 1, the trio was “climbing” out of their storage chest and stretching out their joints from their year in storage.
Rowell, an avid quilter, has them do some quilting each year. They flew kites once, and last year one even gave “birth” to a baby skeleton. That idea was based off Rowell’s daughter, who was also pregnant that year.
She’s been decorating her yard with the skeletons for three years now, and she comes up with new ideas each year.
“I usually have them do five or six things that they didn’t do last year,” she said. “Some of them I repeat and some of them I don’t.”
The idea came to Rowell after a neighbor, who used to do the same thing, moved away.
“It has been kind of fun,” she said.
“I do a lot of crafting. This is a good creative outlet for me and plus it’s fun for the neighbors.”