Terry and Kim Flory live on a street in west Wichita that is only a block long, in the middle of the street where their porch lights aren’t visible from the arterial roads.
When you live on such a street, and half your neighbors let their houses go dark on Halloween, you don’t get many trick-or-treaters.
“The first year, we had 30 kids,” Terry Flory said, remembering a disappointing 2005. So he decided to create a spectacle that would bring people to their door.
The result is a light show synchronized to three songs – “Monster Mash,” “Ghostbusters” and “Crazy Train” – that began Friday and will run through Halloween night. It’s not huge – certainly Flory’s Christmas show is bigger – but it grows every year, and it is serving its purpose. Neighbor kids already were finding it this week.
“Is this your house?” one boy asked as he and a friend stopped their bikes in front of 409 N. David – southwest of Maize and Central – as darkness fell Wednesday.
“It looks really good.”
Outdoor Halloween displays are starting to show up in other parts of town as well, including in College Hill, where the 100 and 200 blocks of North Broadview are Party Central on Oct. 31.
Brian Jones lives in the Eagle Creek apartments at Webb and Lincoln and, like Flory, didn’t want Halloween to fade from his neighborhood.
“Nobody ever decorates anymore like what I've done,” Jones said, shrouding the outside of his ground-level apartment in spiderwebs through which can be seen ghosts, skeletons, spiders, a graveyard – and a grim reaper in a cage that cries because he wants out.
“It’s a bunch of everything,” Jones said, and it glows at night.
The “star” of the show on David Street is a jolly jack-o’-lantern face outlined in clear lights above the garage door that mouths the lyrics to the songs and even blinks and winks occasionally. Two little jack-o’-lantern faces sing backup. LED strips on the frame of the house change colors and pulse to the music, as do arches in the front yard and plastic jack-o’-lanterns strung together with lights on each side of the driveway.
“This is a non-scary show,” Flory said.
Drivers-by can tune their radio to 106.9 to hear the music; for his neighbors’ sake, Flory brings out speakers to play the music only on Halloween.
“Bustin’ makes me feel good!”
The kids who live across the street from the Florys stood in their driveway mesmerized, when they weren’t dancing to “Ghostbusters.”
“They’re my judges and critics,” Flory said.
The lights are on from dark through 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and through 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“I’m not one to sit on the couch. I like building stuff,” Flory said. He bought Light-O-Rama software to sequence the jack-o’-lantern faces; he used his hand as a puppet to figure out which keys on his computer keyboard to hit to make the mouths open the right amount to match the music.
“All aboard! Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa!”
Flory will have to take down most of the Halloween display and put it all up – plus more – for Christmas. The jack-o’-lantern faces will become singing Christmas trees. He wonders, while he’s spending days working on the light shows, why he can’t leave them alone and has to keep adding to them. Perhaps this is why:
“I’ve seen this hundreds of times and I still like it,” Flory said, grinning at the Halloween display.
“It’s a graveyard smash.”