DENVILLE, NJ -- Denville Township has a lot of activities to have fun with. And during Halloween, supposedly when the boundaries of living and the dead are blurred, there is indeed much to enjoy. Some go trick-or-treating, some do scare tactics on others, while others just have costume parties.

For others, however, some residents participate in the Denville Township Recreation Committee’s Halloween house decorating contest, which has been held since 2001. This year, 12 houses were decorated to achieve either of the three main categories: scariest, most creative, and most fun/friendly.

“Each house that wins each year shows an exemplary craftsmanship and lots of hard work is put into each house,” said Recreation Director Nick Panetta.

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“Doing this contest each year is fun, not only for the judging but also for the community as it promotes the holiday and others to decorate their houses as well.”

One of those township residents who decorated his house for the spooky house contest was Doug Herlihy, who has competed in the event for the past four years. This Halloween, Herlihy, together with his father Doug Sr., and his 15-year-old son Doug Herlihy III, covered the front lawn with tombstones, bright lights, a smoke machine, a giant spider and a group of skeletons; two of which were dressed in jeans with banjos that played over a homemade fountain.

“We’ve been part of this Halloween house contest every year,” said Doug Herlihy.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever win one year, but we just do it all for the kids.”

This year, the winner of the scariest Halloween house belonged to April Frix, with its many gravestones, ghouls guarding the front door and a spider web over the front of the building. The winner of the most fun/friendly Halloween house belonged to Laura and Clay Squire, with their own cemetery and army of skeletons rowing a boat across the front lawn. The winner of the most creative Halloween house belonged to the Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired house by John and Taryn Peck. There were even a few trees in their front yard decorated like the ones in the movie that were the portals to other holiday towns.

“At first, we didn’t realize how serious people take this contest, so we up our game every year,” said John Peck, whose kids Lukas (9), Juliana (7) and Bryce (3), also participated in the decorations.

“Halloween is our favorite holiday. We went creative because we want to keep it interesting. When we learned we won, we felt relieved that the hard work paid off. We’re just proud of it all. I love how the rest of the town is so involved with it. Denville makes Halloween a big holiday and enhances the year.”

The prize for the top house in each category was a $100 gift certificate to the Denville Hardware store.

Other participants in the spooky house contest included Liana and Chris Tarantino, Patrick Weir, Chris DiGirolamo, Bob and Jeannie Brenner, Liam and Evan Schultheiss, Mark and Kim Mound, Mark Guzzi, and Sam Astorino.

Later on, another house decorating contest will be conducted by Denville recreation, but for the Christmas season.

To learn about other events and activities of the Denville Township Recreation Committee, visit the municipal website at, or visit them on Facebook at


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