When Ray and Jane Maple were house hunting five years ago, they heard about a street in Wichita where the neighborhood went all out for Halloween.
“We’d never lived in places where people were so into decorating,” Ray Maple said. “We heard about this street and wanted to get a house on this street and we got lucky.”
They live in College Hill on North Broadview between First and Second streets – or simply put, the house with the pirate’s ship in front.
On the average, they expect an average of 3,000 trick-or-treaters will visit their neighborhood Wednesday night.
The Maples are part of a national trend of consumers who are helping turn Halloween into one of the most decorated and beloved holidays of the year.
“Fall has always been my favorite season,” Ray Maple said late Sunday afternoon. “I love to see all the kids happy. At Christmas we see our own family and at Easter, we’ll see them a little bit. But at Halloween, our whole neighborhood comes through. It is fun seeing the little ones get scared or excited.”
Think of the holiday and festivities as good-natured fun.
In west Wichita, Jana Northcutt does her own version of Halloween decorating – using vintage Veggie People, haunted houses and honeycomb balls and lanterns to create an atmospheric look.
The owner of Chateau De Cadeux in historic Delano, Northcutt says Halloween is her favorite holiday.
“Halloween is fun and imaginative. It’s where anything goes,” Northcutt said.” I look forward to dressing up. I don’t do the gore and horror. I’m not into that.”
Instead, she says, she is more into that magical part of Halloween.
And, in Riverside in the 900 block of North Perry, Nancy Russell has carefully decorated the faux graveyard in front of her house, strung lights on the trees and the house and strategically placed witches.
“I like decorating when it is not freezing cold outside,” Russell said.
Whatever the case, the last weekend before Halloween is often busy as homeowners make last-minute preparations before the big candy-filled fright night, which this year falls on Wednesday.
Each year, the homeowners said they try to add a bit more to their Halloween decorating.
Such is the case with the Maples in College Hill.
The first year the couple lived in the house, they were caught off-guard by the enthusiasm of their neighbors for Halloween.
The Maples had strung some spider webs and placed spiders strategically in their front yard – and were shown up, in part, by the animated graveyard to their north and the “Wizard of Oz” house to their south.
The next year Ray Maple, an engineer-carpenter, made a pirate’s ship.
Since then, they simply add to the extravaganza.
This year, the pirate ship is manned by a skeleton crew, a rowboat of skeleton rowers, cannons that belch lights, smoke and sound; and spiders battling the skeletons over a treasure chest.
On Saturday night, while testing the cannons, Jane Maple made Ray turn the cannons off, he said, “because she was afraid somebody would call the police.”