Calling it a Night at the Creepy and Wonderful "Halloween House" of Roxbury

c48d146fb670dd54551d_20151031_202721.jpg
Craig and Madeline Heard welcome trick-or-treaters at their Succasunna home
46de73ab791af462b668_20151101_144047.jpg
Homemade hearse at the Heards' "Halloween House" in Roxbury
48271878e61872e4005a_20151101_143925.jpg
Daylight streetview of Halloween House in Succasunna
68cc390988460a34e52d_20151031_210255.jpg
Visitors approach the entry to the Halloween House in Roxbury
07ed139fe4cc524b3ad8_20151031_202912.jpg
People enter the Halloween House on Halloween Night
0d76d3280723014274c8_20151031_201725.jpg
A "childcare" center from Hell inside the Halloween House
c48d146fb670dd54551d_20151031_202721.jpg

ROXBURY, NJ – You might think Nov. 1 would be a day of rest for Craig Heard, the Succasunna man who amazes visitors every year with jaw-droppingly elaborate front-yard Halloween displays.

Think again.

The day after Halloween is a pretty busy day for Heard and his family. That’s the day when plastic skeletons go on sale.

Sign Up for E-News

There’s no way the Heards are going to just sit back and relax when they can go buy animated zombies, fake blood, phony Frankensteins and other macabre merchandise at half-price. So each year, after thrilling thousands of people with their Halloween extravaganza, the Heards don’t rest. They hit the stores looking for discounted props for next year’s production.

Then comes the dismantling. Taking down the Heards’ “Halloween House,” a display that took five weeks to build, isn't an overnight job. Every synthetic spider, tortured torso, glaring ghoul and made-in-China monster gets carefully packed into a truck. The focal point of the whole thing, a huge pirate ship, gets stuffed with scary stuff, sealed with shrink-wrap and towed to the parking lot of a church where it waits until next Halloween.

Heard, the owner of Gateway Outdoor Advertising, said he has no idea how much he’s invested in the annual production that’s graced his neighborhood every year for a quarter-century. “I wouldn’t even guess how much,” he said. “For me, it’s the fun of it.”

As he spoke, Heard – dressed in white – stood just inside a small section of his house that was open to Halloween Night visitors. He handed out bags of chips to every child who entered. On his right was a small room converted, by Heard's daughter Kristen into a creepy “Complimentary Childcare Service” straight out of a Steven King-induced nightmare. Across the way was a grotesque horror movie operating room where the healthcare cost an arm and a leg and was clearly unsuccessful. From a piano manned by a dead guy came strains of “Tubular Bells,” the theme song of “The Exorcist.”

Having walked an outdoor path that led through scenes of gore, dizzying strobe lights, animated figures telling tales of doom and campy creepiness that would make Alice Cooper feel at home, the children – all in their Halloween costumes - politely took their bags of chips and told their host he was amazing.

“You do an awesome job every year,” said one youngster.

“Is this house just for this?” asked a wide-eyed kid in a super-hero outfit. “No. I live here,” said Heard with a smile. He said he expected about 3,000 people to visit before the night was through.

Meanwhile, Heard’s 34-year-old son, also named Craig, was on top of the towering pirate ship out front. He and some friends were “shooting” the ship’s cannons – spraying, with loud bangs, confetti across the yard. A giant waterwheel rotated slowly, driven not by an electric motor but by real, splashing water. An animated figure told a sad tale of untimely death. Skulls and tombstones were everywhere, with tongue-in-cheek epitaphs displayed in DayGlo color by hidden blacklights.

Heard came to own the massive ship in a way that’s almost as bizarre as his Halloween display: He bought it on eBay.

The ship was built by families in Boulder, Colo. who wheeled it around their neighborhood to have parties, said Heard. He said he was initially outbid by a fellow in England who backed-out of the deal after realizing the cost of shipping the ship from Colorado. It came to Succasunna on a 16-wheel trailer, said Heard.

Plans for the Halloween display begin each year in the summer when the Heards gather to share ideas. Since (unlike most families) they own a pirate ship, one thing about the Heards’ annual display remains constant: The presence of pirates. “We’re tied to that pirate ship,” said Heard. “There’s always going to be pirates out there.”

Given the amount of planning, creativity and passion that go into every year’s creation of the Heards’ display, one might assume Heard was a Halloween buff as a youngster. He said he wasn’t. Actually, the effort began when his daughters, Kristen and Melissa, placed three pumpkins and some dangling skeletons at the house’s front door when they were young. Each year, the family added a little more.

“That’s how it all started,” Heard said. The effort gained in potential when Melissa married Rusty Fagan, a builder, who got excited about lending his skills. Soon, the yard had itself a handmade hearse.

Heard said he doesn’t publicize the display. He wants it to be a local treat, a pit-stop on Halloween Night, not a big tourist attraction. And every year, after he finishes shopping for clearance-priced cadavers, Heard throws a private party for neighbors to thank them for indulging his Halloween hobby.

 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Roxbury

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_6a57ceb4cc57f8ad301a_82709170faa9db7ba6d1_bona

Sun, July 22, 9:00 AM

Henry Bona Pools & Spas, Kenvil

Bona Pools Customer Appreciation Sale!

Home & Garden

Carousel_image_a1decf89a87fc5d7b9c7_circledaypix

Sun, July 22, 12:00 PM

Circle Bowl & Entertainment, Ledgewood

2nd Annual Circle Day at Circle Bowl & ...

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_a2575520f6b6070f69f2_1a063862ab0aec08518c_ccfb88bf21f8332a3575_chilicheesedog

Mon, July 23, 6:30 PM

Iron Hills Tavern, LEDGEWOOD

Chili Cheese Dog Contest!

Food & Drink

Carousel_image_be99a2c018e6835e29d2_finn-foster-465x357

Mon, July 23, 6:45 PM

Roxbury Public Library, Succasunna, NJ 07876

Library Concert Series: Finn & Foster Duo

Arts & Entertainment

Have You Seen Buttons?

July 11, 2018

MOUNT OLIVE, NJ - Residents of Roxbury living near Flanders are asked to keep an eye out for a lost female Yorkie mix that has been missing since July 7.

"Buttons" was last seen near Kevin Drive and Christopher Court in Flanders. The dog, described as friendly but shy, is brown with dark highlights and a white chest patch. If you see her, please call 973-219-9323.

Columns

Peyton Knight's Pointers for Safer Driving

Many customers ask my advice for ways to add more years of life to their vehicles. Here are a few pointers from my 35 years of experience in the auto repair industry, as well as some tips to keep you safer on the road.  

1.    Pull Through a Parking Spot.  Pull through to the other side of a parking space so your vehicle faces forward out ...

More Snow! Let Your Kid Drive in It!

ROXBURY, NJ - We are again about to be walloped by a snowstorm. These words, first written at the beginning of winter, need to be reiterated:

Many parents with a new driver at home will see the storm approaching and instinctively decide to not allow their kids to get behind the wheel until the snow's been cleared.

They might want to rethink that.

When it snows, ...

Is Your Car Ready for Old Man Winter?

You know it’s coming: That first frigid morning when you discover your car is covered in ice. Old Man Winter has reared his ugly head once again to wreak havoc on your car and your ride to work. 

Well, I’ve got one thing to say about that: Let’s be ready for him this year!

Owning a repair shop for over 30 years, I have spent many harsh winters coaxing a dead ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.

 

 

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

Letters to TAPinto Roxbury

A Problem and a Solution

July 17, 2018

Greetings, residents of Roxbury Township.  Let me begin by thanking you for the opportunity to serve as the high school principal for the past 15 years.  It has been an honor and a pleasure to do so.

As I “walk into the sunset,” I’d like to bring an important issue to your attention.  It is a significant issue that will plague the district for years to come if ...

Three Roxbury Area Students Make Drew Dean's List

July 20, 2018

MADISON, NJ - Three students from the Roxbury area made the Drew University Dean's List for the Spring 2018 semester:

Alexis Castanheira of Landing, a member of the Class of 2019 majoring in Psychology.

Mariam Ghaly of Mount Arlington, a member of the Class of 2021 majoring in Business.

Anthony McMyne of Succasunna, a member of the Class of 2019 majoring in ...

Warsaw of Ledgewood Makes St. Lawrence Dean's List

CANTON, NY - Nolan Warsaw of Ledgewood has been selected for inclusion on St. Lawrence University's Dean's List for academic achievement during the Spring 2018 semester.

Warsaw is a member of the Class of 2021. Warsaw attended Roxbury High School.

To be eligible for the Dean's List, a student must have completed at least four courses and have an academic average of 3.6 based on ...

Two From Roxbury Graduate From Roger Williams

BRISTOL, RI - The following local residents were among the 1,127 students who received their degrees in May as part of the Class of 2018

Paul Bohrer of Succasunna N, with a B.A. in Public Health

Samuel Sherwood of Succasunna NJ (07876), with a B.S. in Finance

Press Releases

Morristown Medical Center Health Pavilion Recognized with 2018 New Good Neighbor Award by the NJBIA

July 21, 2018

Morristown, NJ–Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center Health Pavilion in Rockaway, New Jersey was recognized with the 2018 New Good Neighbor Award by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association on Tuesday.

The New Good Neighbor Award recognizes the companies, architects, builders and financial entities whose redevelopment projects have benefited their communities ...

Roxbury BOYS & GIRLS INVITED TO FREE SUMMER ADVENTURE NIGHTS

Events Will Include STEM, Shooting sports, games and More!

_____________________________

STANHOPE, NJ – July 5, 2018– Time for the whole family to experience adventure this summer!  Have some free summer evenings and ready for a summer evening of family fun?!  Families are invited to attend any of four Family Adventure Nights at Camp Wheeler or Watchung Day Camp at no ...