LIVONIA – It’s not quite like coming back from the dead, but it’s been a hard few years for the house in town with the strongest Halloween spirit.
About three years ago, a heavy March snowfall collapsed a 40 by 60-foot barn at 6519 Coe Road. It contained dozens of intricate Halloween decorations, characters and props that Bill Cavalier had made by hand over the past 20 years. Most of these were lost in the collapse.
“The collapse took out a homemade witch, a guy on an electric chair, a carnival swing with baby zombies hanging from it…a lot of cool stuff,” said Cavalier with his wife, Donna Kelley. “Slowly, slowly it’s kind of getting rebuilt.”
Now, the house’s Halloween glory days are coming back. Driving by, the yard and home look like a pretty premium haunted house. The towering t-rex skeleton and its hatching baby surrounded by bright-eyed skeletons…triceratops, dog, wolf, human…really set it off. Blow-up haunted carriages stand in the yard. A projector shoots silhouettes of skeletons, vampires and zombies on a screen.
Inside the house, decorations and spooky figures cover every inch. Lights dangle from the ceiling. A human head talks and peeps around in a glowing crystal ball. A corpse bride clutches some white roses and sighs quietly in the corner. Dracula scowls from the wall. A giant spider sits still on the floor, but if you walk too close it springs up and hisses.
“We see things in stores, we get ideas, we build on them,” said Kelley,”We try to do a different theme every year. This year we saw the t-rex and said ‘Yep. That’s it.'”
Kelley and Cavalier have hosted Halloween parties for grownups for the past 20 years. They used to have kids parties too but haven’t thrown one for the past few years, since the granddaughter moved out. Thought the decorations are cool, it’s the parties that have really built a community spirit around this house.
“My sister came over from Hudson, where I’m originally from, and we had a Halloween party, and it kind of got out of hand from there,” said Kelley. “We did a 60’s theme once, where we put black and white tile down and served garbage plates like it was a diner.”
“That was a three-costume year,” laughed Cavalier. “First I was a short-order cook, then a greaser, then I was Elvis.”
A graveyard sprawls in the yard with dozens of tombstones. Looking closer, you might recognize some of the names as local people who are not only still living, but friends of Cavalier and Kelley. Turns out that coming to two or more parties gets you your own tombstone in their yard.
“We love doing this stuff,” said Kelley. “We’ve had people come back and back for 20 years. We’ll keep the decorations up for a little while and we’re already getting ideas rolling for next year.”