BOWDEN – When October arrives it’s time for the Mackie family to think scary.
This is serious business. They have an entire front lawn along Main Street to get ready. One side is for a ghoulish looking cemetery, the other for torture chambers, and a suitably frightful witch in the middle.
Halloween is coming, and soon hundreds of trick-or-treaters kids and adults will arrive; all of them in awe of the deliciously dark and menacing masterpiece that has been created.
“I just like seeing the kids and how they like to interact with the scary things. Just seeing the kids is mainly why we do it,” said father Steve.
While every prop and attraction were built by Steve, Bowden’s Halloween House is truly a family project that includes wife Stacey, daughter Shelby and son Gage.
Shelby, now 20, has been helping with the autumn tradition since she was three-years-old, and her excitement this year for the family project is as strong as ever.
“We always try to add new stuff. It’s pretty exciting. People know us as the Halloween House. I love doing it with my dad. It’s kind of our thing we do every year, getting our Halloween stuff ready,” said Shelby, adding it has never been tiring over the past 17 years.
“It gets better. We always try to updo ourselves every year, so it’s exciting to see and hear what my dad has planned."
“Most of the stuff in the yard comes from him. We always look at YouTube, and see what will fit our theme," she added.
This year the family has added an old-fashioned hearse, complete with a scary skeleton.
“We will have a driver. We tried to find a skeleton horse but they are hard to find, so we’ll just have reins coming off of it and we’ll light it up,” said Steve, noting the cemetery side of the family creation is done with a Stephen King theme, with tombstones created to honour the renowned writer’s books and characters.
Indeed, there is a tombstone in honour of Gage Creed, the fictional child character from the book and move Pet Sematary.
“My 19-year-old son is named Gage too,” noted Steve, conceding he’s a huge Steven King fan. There’s another for Anne Marie "Annie" Wilkes, antagonist in the 1987 novel Misery, and for the characters of the It miniseries.
This year Steve also secured three 18-inch by eight-inch coffin demos from a niece’s fiancé, a former undertaker.
“We are going to add some lights to them, hands and stuff and creep them up,” said Steve, noting one has been strategically placed by Gage Creed’s tombstone and another in the mausoleum, which was introduced last year but now completely set up for 2021.
After last year’s Halloween, the first one during the pandemic, the family counted 247 little excited ghost and goblins, a record visitation to Bowden’s Halloween House.
With that success, the family decided to add yet another attraction. Shelby is hiding plastic eggs throughout the yard of Halloween House. Kids are tasked to find them and bring them to the front door and they will get a special prize on top of the regular trick-or-treat goodies.
“This is just to give them a little more incentive to come back to the house,” said Steve, adding that while the pandemic is still an issue it is important that the feel-good fun of Allhallows Eve continues on.
“Even this year with it (pandemic) still going on we’re still handing out candy, for those two-years-old, or if you’re 19 and want a chocolate bar come on in.
“Our yard brings the kids. We don’t say no to anybody.”