Eganville – It’s going to be an extra spooky Hallowe’en in the village this year thanks to one family who go all out for the celebration.
Shannon and Ben Kelly, and their children Mackenzie, 17, and Kingston, 12, are very passionate about Hallowe’en and that clearly shows through in the displays and experience they prepare each year for the approximately 200 visitors they see each October 31st. Their annual elaborate Hallowe’en displays at 275 Bonnechere Street West, which is the main thoroughfare through the village, are always an eye-catcher for pedestrians and motorists. With a large, sloped lawn there is plenty of room to display and express some creativity. This year they are promising more surprises for visitors.
Mrs. Kelly said she and her husband have enjoyed celebrating Hallowe’en every one of the 22 years they’ve been together and the elaborate displays were launched in about 2015. They are both are always thinking about the displays and what the coming year’s attraction might include, she added.
“We like to change things up every year so it’s different and people will not know what to expect,” she explained. “There’s definitely new stuff every year.”
Anyone passing the property this year would notice the addition of a huge inflatable hearse and inflatable dragon which she said are both new for 2021. And to enhance the experience, the Kellys lay out a path through their yard that is clearly marked with different animatronics that are activated and some of the kid’s friends dress up to scare visitors along the route.
“The car has been a big hit, everybody likes it. And let’s say we have some other surprises for the haunt.
“There’ll definitely be a lot of screams this year,” she added.
She said they previously used to set up the driveway with some less scary items but this year she is having one hour when it’s still daylight to allow the younger children to walk the path.
“We’ll have an hour where we turn all the animatronics off so the parents and younger children know nothing is going to jump out and scare them. So at least they can go through and see them.”
She has set the time for that between 3 and 4 p.m.
Ms. Kelly said she gets a lot of the props between the Home Depot in Pembroke, where Mr. Kelly is employed, and at the Home Depots or Spirit Hallowe’en in Ottawa.
When asked if they set a budget each year as to what they will add, she quickly replied, “There’s no point, we always go over.”
She estimated they average about $1,000 of new displays each year and those items are rotated in and out of the annual displays to keep them looking different. In addition to that cost, the Kellys hand out “rather large” treat bags to all the children which she estimated was another $400 annually.
She said although her kids are now older and don’t trick or treat anymore, they preferred staying home to help welcome the many visitors at their home each year.
“They absolutely love it,” she remarked.
She said it’s heartwarming to hear the many kind comments they receive annually from families who appreciate their efforts.
“They love it. We get so many compliments, it’s crazy.
“We average about 200, and that’s on the low end,” she added. “The response has been phenomenal.”
She said they expected the numbers would be down sharply last year due to COVID, with Ms. Kelly taking extra care to package the treat bags safely and observe the necessary precautions outside.
This year, she has prepared 270 treat bags, believing there will be even more kids out than ever.
“We expand every year with the responses and we just love doing it as a family. My mom (Debbie Buelow) comes out every year to help and we have friends who come out.
“It’s our time of year,” she added.
She believes their display has encouraged other property owners too put some extra work into celebrating the event.
“I see it around town, there’s more and more every year which is nice to see. I would hope we inspire others.”
She said the giant 12-foot skeleton goes up mid-September, promoting what is to come.
In addition to their elaborate Hallowe’en themed display, the Kellys also do one for Easter, Remembrance Day and Canada Day.
“There’s steady people honking their horns and there’s comments on Facebook,” she said of people showing their appreciation for what they do.
She hopes to expand what they do for the Christmas season, noting however that inflatables and snow don’t always mix that well.