FAIRBORN — Citizens of Fairborn are hanging and placing Halloween-themed items across their lawns and porches in preparation for Saturday’s trick-or-treaters, and the city hosted a contest for who could decorate their home in the most festive fashion.
Three winners were declared by the Mayor’s Beautification Committee as having the best Halloween-themed decorated homes in the city, including first place winners Jennifer and Andrew McQuaid, second place winners Carol and Terry Brewer and third place winner Hollie Peterman.
“We do this partly because we love Halloween so much, but we also do it because of how much joy it brings to others,” Jennifer McQuaid said. “It means so much to us that people love it as much as we do.”
Halloween is a family favorite of the McQuaid’s. Jennifer’s parents hosted Halloween parties as she grew up, while Andrew’s mother each year gives the couple money to purchase a prop in honor of his late father, who was also a big fan of the holiday.
Jennifer feels that neighbors are fundamental in the decorating process, as they offer feedback along the way. Individuals living down Mann Avenue donate display items and frequent their yard to observe, help and ask questions. The neighborhood has talked of getting each house involved by decorating in some fashion. Jennifer said it would be like a “haunted Mann Avenue” – and feels that they have plenty of extra decorations to help this become a reality.
“Part of why we do this – it means something to you guys too and that matters to us,” she said. “It really does.”
Decorating serves as a bonding opportunity for the couple. She said they’ve spent 24 to 36 man-hours doing so, beginning at the end of September. They have been at their current location for the last four years, decorated the last three and won first place in the house decorating contest for the second year in a row this year. However, Jennifer said they don’t do it to be the victor in the competition.
“We definitely don’t do it to win, but it means a lot to us that Fairborn recognizes and encourages the decorating,” she said. “[Some places] don’t even want you to decorate. It’s just really nice to live in Fairborn where they’re so encouraging … It means a lot to us that Fairborn does something so fun. You don’t see that in other cities.”
The McQuaid’s will continue tweaking and adding to their display up until trick-or-treaters stop by Saturday evening. They saw 200 costumed kids approach their home last year, but she is hoping for even more this year and has prepared their candy supply accordingly.
“That’s another big reason why we do this – the reactions,” she said. “The kids love it and it’s so awesome to see their little faces light up. Some of the kids are scared … but we try not to go scary. I feel like we’re more medium, not gory or terrifying. You try to make it fun for all age groups.”
Jennifer said she is aiming to include a display on the roof next year, and suggests that future house-decorators consider a theme for their displays and have fun along the way.
The Brewer’s are happy and excited to win second place in the house decorating contest. They feel that decorating their home for the season is a family affair, and look forward to it every year.
“We’ve been collecting stuff for about 20 years,” Terry said. “A lot of stuff is old, some of it is new.”
Their daughters, son-in-law and grandchildren come to participate in the set up and tear down process each year, and Carol said they have a great time in doing so. Family members include their daughters Betty Brewer and Christy Risley; son-in-law Stefan Risley and grandchildren Lilli Brewer, Mallorie Ferguson and Terry Brewer.
“It’s a family thing,” Carol said. “Our daughters and granddaughters come over … and we all do it together, and make a big party of it. It’s really good.”
Their set-up process typically begins Oct. 1, but Carol said she has to stop her husband from beginning the decorating mid-September as he gets excited. In addition to participating in Fairborn’s house decorating contest, the Brewers set up their items at a campground at Longs Retreat, located in Latham, Ohio, and win the decorating contest hosted there as well.
“It’s a lot of work, but everyone enjoys it,” Carol said. “Trick-or-Treat night, they’ll all be here – some friends and their kids. I’ll cook some food – it’s a big family thing.”
The Brewer’s said Christmas is their favorite holiday, but the cold weather deters them from decorating as heavily. Their front porch will include a haunted house for the first time during Halloween night this year, and in exchange for a bag of candy their granddaughters have agreed to participate and act as victims within the scary walk-through. They advise future house-decorating participants to stay organized.
“It’s flattering when people stop in front of the house just to stop and look,” Terry said. “As far as someone coming by, we want them to be scared.”
The McQuaid’s display is found on the 10 block of Mann Avenue; citizens can find the Barlow’s decorations on the 200 block of Dellwood Drive and Peterman’s display is found on Redbank Drive.