Beyond pumpkins: These houses pump it up for Halloween

Trick or Treaters will be in for a treat at this north Wichita home

Joshua and Mildred Clyborne have decorated their north Wichita home at 6726 W. Ocieo just east of Ridge Road with 6,000 lights set to nine different musical sequences, 14 tombstones, two singing faces, fog machines and more for this year's trick-o
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Joshua and Mildred Clyborne have decorated their north Wichita home at 6726 W. Ocieo just east of Ridge Road with 6,000 lights set to nine different musical sequences, 14 tombstones, two singing faces, fog machines and more for this year's trick-o

Americans are going all-out for Halloween – again.

A poll by the National Retail Federation says spending per person is at an 11-year high.

Judging by some homes in the Wichita area, Kansans are definitely doing their part.

One house has become an attraction in northwest Wichita, while another is keeping a tradition alive in the College Hill area.

Meet the two couples behind some of the area’s tricks and treats.

Neighborhood nostalgia

Joshua Clyborne experienced his Halloween horror in September.

That’s when a massive windstorm swept through and knocked down the Styrofoam gravestones he had created on the front lawn of his house at 6726 W. Ocieo, near Ridge Road just north of the Wichita city limits.

“I had to use a little trigonometry from school and figure out the angles and circumferences,” the 62-year-old Boeing retiree said of the tombstones, which have flashing “R.I.P.” signs in orange lights. “I was going to put names on them, but I ran out of time.”

Clyborne’s display, which runs through Nov. 1, boasts 6,000 lights dancing to nine different musical sequences. There are 14 tombstones, as well as two singing faces atop the roof of the split-level house he shares with his wife, Mildred.

He began putting up Christmas light displays after he retired in 2013 and began Halloween decor the following year.

“Christmas is much bigger,” he said, with 41,000 lights matched to 15 different musical sequences.

A Wichita native – he left once, for a three-year stint in California in his teens – Clyborne said he wants to bring back a time when children walked their neighborhood to go trick-or-treating.

“I like to give a safe place for the kids,” he said, noting that the number of young families has increased in the area. “We got a lot of new kids in the neighborhood this year, so I hope the numbers will come up.”

Clyborne said he and his wife enjoy Halloween and dressing up – they’ll likely reprise the costumes they wore last year: he as Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and Mildred as “Alice in Wonderland.”

Energy-efficient lights have become the staple, Clyborne said. His Halloween display increases his electric bill by only about $5 to $10. The Christmas one bumps it about $55 in December.

The music sequences are pre-programmed, he said. One pop song that is featured in both: “Party Rock Anthem,” the 2011 hit by the band LMFAO. Mildred reports seeing teenagers get out of their cars and dance in the street when that song comes on, transmitting at 106.9 FM from a small receiver in the house.

Another addition this year is a “chiller,” a fog machine on the porch that sends vapor through a cooling fan and distributes it through a drainpipe.

Traffic gets busier than usual on the street in front of the house around Halloween.

“It gets pretty exciting. The tombstones were the newest thing, and he’s done a fabulous job on those,” said Joe Ann Jones, who lives next door. “It runs all night, but it doesn’t bother me at all. He’s pretty creative with all this.”

Clyborne and his wife, who retired from Braum’s Dairy and Ice Cream Stores, handle all of the decorating themselves. They have three children and 10 grandchildren, all in Wichita.

And once Nov. 1 has come and gone, Clyborne will take down all the orange lights and make changes to prepare for a Christmas rush on Thanksgiving weekend.

He already has plans for next Halloween.

“I’ve got changes I want to make for next year, try to make it better,” he said. “Iron out some of the kinks I had this year.”

Keeping it real

For Grant and Janet Rine, their vocation as owners of Old Town Architectural Salvage Company feeds their avocation, creating elaborate Halloween scenarios outside their house at Second and Bluff for the past 15 years.

“The graveyard fencing is real. The gravestones just happen to be real,” Janet said of their display. “Most of it doesn’t have any identification – names or anything like that.

“We go all out for authentic things,” she added.

In a tribute to Gene Wilder, who died this year, one part of their yard will be devoted to a “Young Frankenstein” tableau, with a friend re-creating the good doctor.

Otherwise, the Rines keep a tradition of dressing up for the occasion: He becomes the “Phantom of the Opera” and she a witch.

“This is our big show. We’re hammy, show people,” said Grant, who, with his wife, founded the Forum Theatre.

A pipe organ is re-created outside the sunroom window of their house with “ginormous speakers” to give Grant, an oncologist, the illusion of playing.

The Halloween night party serves a two-fold purpose for the Rines. It’s a chance for them to get together with 80-some friends and to hand out treats to about 6,000 children.

“They line up down the sidewalk and come on up,” Janet said. “We’re probably the only house that gives out chocolate.

“It’s probably a little bit scary,” Janet said of the atmosphere. “We have to entertain a very large party that night, so everybody can take their turn giving out candy and being a part of those whole thing.

“They get to re-create their youth. They dress up and become a part of this party and come in, and it’s a big event,” she said of her grownup party guests. “It’s so much fun to see everyone get in touch with their inner child.”

It also warms the Rines’ hearts, she said: “We never had children. This gives an opportunity to spoil everyone else’s.”

They help make the College Hill neighborhood, in Grant’s words, “the epicenter of Halloween in Wichita.”

Once Halloween is over, it’s time for Christmas decorating. Some items get repurposed, they say: A mausoleum used in the Halloween display morphs into a Nativity scene for Christmastime.

The Halloween displays also cause the Rines to have some retroactive holiday fatigue.

“You’re totally exhausted when it’s done,” Grant said. “You say, ‘How did I survive this? Next year we’re going to scale back.’

“But the next year we do it bigger and better.”

Halloween spending in 2016

A poll by the National Retail Federation says that $82.93 per person is being spent by Americans this year on Halloween goodies, costumes and decorations, compared with $74.34 per person last year. That’s an 11-year high.

The grand total is estimated at $8.4 billion, including $3.1 billion on masks and costumes, $2.5 billion on candy and treats and $390 million for cards.