Things have gotten extra spooky at a certain house on Devereaux Drive in Destrehan, and homeowner Tina Scanlon said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We had a lot of people this year ask us if we were going to do our decorations because of COVID and we told them absolutely,” she said. “We wanted to be able to allow the kids to have some sense of normalcy for Halloween … some kids don’t know any different … this is what they know for Halloween.”
For the 14th year in a row, Tina and her husband Jack transformed their front yard into one of the most festive spots in the parish. Tina said tons of families ride by in cars, while other children take in the sights from a wagon or bike.
“I can watch from my window inside and it’s unbelievable the amount of people who stop by and take pictures,” Tina said. “Halloween night is chaos … we get truckloads of kids to come see.”
The chaos is of course welcome, Tina said, adding she knows there will come a time when we will no longer be able to do this.
“But the time isn’t here yet,” she said. “We have so much fun seeing everyone’s faces as they drive by. This is the 14th year of decorating and my favorite set up by a mile.”
The couple began decorating their home in 2007, the year they moved in. They started with a small arsenal of decorations, and later inherited some and even borrowed others from a family friend who had a lot of Halloween decorations but nowhere to store them.
“Jack told him, ‘If you let us put them in our front yard, we’ll store it for you,” Tina said. “That’s how it started.”
Tina said the couple accumulates more decorations each year, particularly after Halloween when displays are drastically reduced and other items are on sale.
“Our regulars will come in and say, ‘What’s new?” Tina said. “And parents use it as a reward system … they tell me that they’ll tell their kids, “If you’re good in school then you get to go drive by the haunted house.’”
Tina said she and Jack have always loved Halloween.
“When my husband and I started my dating, my daughter was 2 years old and from our first Halloween together we always did costumes and decorations,” she said. “We were neighbors … that’s how we met … and both of us would decorate our little bushes by our condos.”
Prep and planning for the annual Halloween display starts months ahead of time.
“I start in July planning,” Tina said laughing. “Usually when we’re at the beach I sit with my iPad and start planning. We like to change it up every year … we don’t want it to be the same layout every year. We want people to have a different experience.”
In mid-September yard prep starts, and by mid-September the decorations begin to go up. Tina said the full display take a week and a half to set up and nearly a week to take down.
She said the couple’s Christmas spirit is just as bright – and their yard display is just as impressive – as it is for Halloween.
“About four years ago we built a shed in our backyard and it’s only for Christmas and Halloween decorations,” she said. “Usually my husband will start the weekend before Thanksgiving with putting up Christmas decorations, but two weeks after Halloween he’s already putting lights in the trees and bushes. By Thanksgiving night he wants it all done and to light it up.”