By John Gregory
A handful of families decorate their homes, but this couple really loves Halloween.
With the help of a lighted, 12-foot tall ghost and a life-size Pennywise the Dancing Clown statue with glowing red eyes, Patrick and Maggie Stovel work hard to get Scripps Ranch residents into the Halloween spirit.
“The orange light comes on and the neighbors know it’s coming,” Patrick said.
When the Stovel’s porch lights turn blood-orange, the zombies, tombstones, spiders and mummies come out. Starting at the end of September, Patrick starts setting up the house, one spooky decoration at a time, Maggie said.
“It slowly goes up,” she explained. “Every week, the kids come by to see how it’s going. And every year, Patrick buys something new, so something fun always sneaks in. He has the master plan.”
Five years ago, the Stovels bought a few lawn decorations that Patrick considered “high-end, Disneyland quality” decorations to avoid
a “cheesy, tacky set up.” And every year, he has added to his collection. Now, their home lights up the street, and he and Maggie are hoping the rest of the neighborhood will eventually join in.
Until that happens, they are happy to have visitors stop or drive by their Halloween home. A lawn full of zombies emerging from the ground makes children apprehensive to approach the front door, Patrick said, but once they do, they can check out the “Nightmare Harvest,” complete with corn stalks and “human cocoons” hanging near the doorway.
The Stovel house glows with Halloween color. In place of a garage door, Halloween movies such as “Beetle Juice” are projected and played every night of the week. When Oct. 31 finally arrives, Maggie said Pennywise the Clown makes his appearance (he only comes out Halloween night), Patrick gets the fog machine going, and he and Maggie pass out full-sized candy bars.
The way they see it, Halloween is just the start of the holiday season, and their display is intended to make viewers feel “warm inside” as it sets the mood for fall and the rest of the holidays.
“We go all out for Christmas, too,” Patrick said.
Now that this is their fifth year decorating so elaborately for Halloween, the neighborhood children have come to love and look forward to seeing the display.
“We can’t stop now,” Patrick joked. “The kids have come to expect it.”
The Stovels welcome all the visitors they can get. Visitors can stop or drive by for a peek by heading to 11089 Doverhill Road in Scripps Ranch.