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North Okanagan houses show Halloween spirit

‘Twas the night before Halloween and outside the McNeil house on 25th Avenue in Vernon, the husband-and-wife team of Del and Brenda McNeil continue to add to their already impressive Halloween yard display.

It’s a display that rivals any house decorated for Christmas, complete with a 17-foot-high Grim Reaper, 16 mannequins, headstones, pirates, coffins and an electric chair.

“We had to build a shed to keep all of our Halloween stuff,” laughed Brenda, who runs the cafeteria at Kalamalka Secondary School in Coldstream.

“We are still adding to the display,” said Del, a machinist who makes most of the display himself.

The McNeils have four grown-up children and four grandchildren. One daughter who lives in town, refers to her parents’ love of Halloween and the home display as “awesomely crazy.”

Brenda and Del have lived at their current home for just over three years, and continued doing the Halloween display they started at their old home off Alexis Park Drive on 35th Avenue for nearly nine years.

“People have followed us because of the display,” Brenda said. “Halloween, for us, is a season. We get about 200 visitors just for the display. We’ve had people come in from Kelowna just to see it. Kid-wise, on Halloween night, we get about 70 or 80 kids. Usually, people will make our house the last stop so they can see the display.”

The McNeils begin putting up the display the day after Thanksgiving and will keep it up for a few days after Halloween.

Meanwhile, out of her home-based business in Coldstream, salon owner Karla Bruneau begins decorating her Mt. Symons Place shop and yard Oct. 1 and keeps them up throughout Halloween.

A big fan of Halloween, Bruneau will don her regular witch’s costume that she said evolves every year. She pulls out her latest score, a new witch’s hat.

“It’s so exciting and fun,” Bruneau said of her lifelong love of Oct. 31. “It’s a chance to be a kid again.”

The salon, which is in the home she shares with her husband, Nathan, is decorated with pumpkin lights, haunted houses, ghosts and decorative Halloween words like “Boo” and “Spooky.”

“My clients love it. They get their pictures taken with the display,” Bruneau said. “I have clients that will book specifically in October so they can see the display.”

Outside her salon, Bruneau’s front yard is decorated with a cobweb, complete with big black spiders, headstones and skeletons.

There’s a similar display just down around the corner from her house. It’s a residence on Middleton Way where tenant Randy McDuff has also built a rather large cobweb out of twine.

It stretches from the top of the front of the house out to the roadway. The web is decorated with big spiders, and ghosts guard the web along the front of the house and driveway.

“I’ve been doing this off and on for about the last five or six years,” McDuff said. “The cobwebs are handmade and the spiders I’ve bought over the years. I’ll also have about 25-to-30 pumpkins carved and ready for Halloween night.”

McDuff, who will hand out candy wearing his Jedi Knight costume that he had made for the premieré of one of the Star Wars movies, has always been a fan of Halloween and carried that into adulthood.

“The kids enjoy it, I think, even more than Christmas,” McDuff said, whose border collie, Oreo, is decorated in an orange collar with black bats. “I plan to keep doing this, for sure.”

Halloween just for kids? Surely you jest.

READ MORE: Stay safe this Halloween: Vernon fire department

READ MORE: Okanagan College extends president’s contract for two more years

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Roger Knox

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