Every October, homeowners around the country transform their lawns into spooky scenes of ghosts and ghouls. In Swampscott, residents need to look no further than Stetson Avenue for the “mecca” of haunted houses. This Halloween, the street will be closed off for the first time ever so the young trick-or-treaters can safely have fright-filled fun.
Bill Roche of 84 Stetson Ave. credits his wife, Nancy, for starting the neighborhood trend.
“She thinks Halloween should be a national holiday,” Roche said.
Roche has been decorating his lawn for more than a decade. The paranormal presence has never been higher in 2023, as Roche says the decorations have never been more elaborate.
“Personally, I don’t think we can fit anymore, but this is how it is,” Roche said.
When there was no longer enough space on the lawn for more creepy characters, Roche had to innovate. A 25-pound skeleton sits above the portico, looking down on potential visitors. Roche explained that he expects the number of visitors to be very high on Oct. 31.
“If it’s a weekday, we probably get 300 kids,” Roche explained. “If it’s a weekend, we probably get upwards of 500 kids. This is Grand Central for Halloween.”
Nate and Tracy Novello followed their next-door neighbors with their creepy collection of creatures. Their decor is highlighted by a life-size animatronic bat creature whose glowing red eyes peer into trespassers.
“It’s not a competition. We just all want to decorate and put up lights,” Roche said. “We help each other out too… It’s a group effort, and it’s really fun.”
The McCall family of 177 Stetson Ave. keeps the theme going on the far end of the street. Jesse McCall explained that he, his wife Aileen, and their four-year-old daughter Piper have been part of “Halloweeny” neighborhoods before in Somerville and Watertown. He has grown to love partaking in the festivities over the years.
“It’s just really fun, people who drive by slow down, and the car windows roll down, and there are kids in the backseat cheering you on,” Jesse McCall said. “Everybody loves it, and it’s fun to do too.”
The McCall’s spooky showcase features homemade “ghosts.” They are designed to look like two ballroom-dancing couples in old-fashioned clothing. They are made fully out of chicken wire.
“You just kind of stitch it all together and shape it,” Jesse McCall said. “It took about an hour for each person.”
Like most decorations, the homemade ghosts are the most eye-catching when they’re illuminated at night. A giant skeleton is not exclusive to the Roche household, as Piper McCall has named her twelve-foot friend “Sally.”