It just might be the most dedicated Halloween house in Abbotsford – rain or shine, Mark Latter says he and four or five others typically spend seven hours on setup all on Halloween day.
Latter said the setup started about 15 years ago, albeit much less extensive.
“The first year we started, we just bought a sheet of styrofoam and carved a couple tombstones and painted epitaphs on them,” Latter said. “That was the start of it, and then the following year, a couple skeletons and a mound of dirt.”
From there, it continued to grow, and images from last year’s setup depict an impressive setup – from creepy pumpkin-faced scarecrows and an “I scream” cart in a hearse to mysterious elixirs and the “Old Burial Hill.”
And most of it is handmade, save for a few plastic skeletons.
“Basically everything you see there I made over the years, too, either out of wood or papier-mâché, or something or other. So everything is hand-crafted and made with love.”
Everything disassembles and goes into storage, only to be hauled out for the hours-long setup on Halloween day, getting just a few hours of fresh air a year. But Latter says he’s never deterred by the labour involved.
“It’s quite a neighbourhood affair, too, because we’re doing it during the day, my wife Kelly and I. There’s always neighbours and people that have been coming for years and years always drop by just to talk. Just the setup time is quite a social thing, too. It’s just pleasant all the way around,” he said.
“It’s quite a festive Halloween neighbourhood, anyway, so that’s what started it.”
Latter lives on Terry Fox Avenue, and says his one-road-in-one-road-out neighbourhood is generally quiet, which, along with surrounding row houses and apartment buildings, has helped make the area “kind of a Halloween central.”
“Even on the worst nights, you get 250, 300 kids through,” he said, noting that typically about 1,500 people visit the house.
Latter said his main policy on the setup is to be family-oriented in all of the decorations.
“The main thing is that there’s no gore. There’s no blood or dismemberment. It’s overall pretty family-friendly.”
Latter says there won’t be anything too new in this year’s setup, but he does move everything around each year to make each year look different from years past.
He says he’s working on doing something similar for Christmas in the future, but that hasn’t quite made it onto his workstation.