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baltimoresun.com

Catonsville residents fill front yard with spirit of Halloween

By Keith Meisel, kmeisel@tribune.com

1:57 PM EDT, October 23, 2012

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While the number of decorated front yards does not rival the Christmas season, Catonsville residents from one end of the community to the other are into the spirit of the Halloween this fall.

In western Catonsville, a few broom sticks away from the Trolley Trail, a front yard on Chalfonte Drive presents a spooky scene for passers-by. Small skulls peer out from a tree, ghosts and spider webs float in the wind above a small graveyard.

On the eastern side of town, a caldron toss from the city line, the yard in front of a row house on Westshire Road has become a crowded cemetery. Next to an ominous fence with the gate entrance marked "Asylum," skulls dangle above the rows of tombstones while a demon sits perched on the roof of the porch.

In the center of Catonsville, on Montrose Avenue, Ken Erickson and Jennifer Parker have filled their front yard with all the scary symbols of the season for the 10th year.

"It takes my husband weeks. There's stuff everywhere, in the trees, the bushes," Parker said, on the various ghosts, goblins, pumpkins and other images around the eight inflatables in the yard.

"It's a partnership," she said. "I buy the stuff and he puts it up."

She said the couple have noticed that they are not the only contributors to the ever-changing scene.

"Stuff just shows up on our lawn," she said. "There are Halloween decorations that we don't know where they came from."

The end result does more than attract the attention of motorists and pedestrians. Parker said she was told a school bus driver slows to nearly a stop going down Montrose so the children on board can get a good look at the graveyard, ghosts, and wood chipper and lawn mower with human limbs sticking out from beneath the blades, among the other sights.

"I know my husband gets a kick out of the people who bring their kids and drive by. The community seems to like it and appreciate it," she said. "We haven't had too many negative responses from the neighbors."

The exterior decorations add to the atmosphere for the Halloween party, costumes required, the couple hosts for 75-100 guests every year.

Themes for previous years have included sports, movies, the Saturday Night Live television show and Rocky Horror Picture Show movie.

This year's party has a "villains" theme and is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27.

A party for 10-year-old Ken Parker Jr. and his friends is Sunday, Oct. 28.

All the decorations are enough for two parties.