Above: 5 Kenson Drive
Houses that go the extra (spooky) mile
Do yourself a favor this weekend: swing by 5 Kenson Drive (it’s just off First Avenue). At night. That is, if you don’t scare easily.
As he’s done for the past 20-plus years (except for last year … COVID), Joe Del Regno has transformed his classic suburban front yard into a hellscape, complete with dozens of skeletons, ghosts and zombies, as well as assorted body parts.
“It takes me over 80 hours,” said Del Regno Friday. “This is 20-years worth – you just don’t go out overnight and get all this.”
Visit during the daytime and you get a sense of it all. But, Del Regno says, “this whole thing is designed to be seen at night. I have 12 industrial fog machines. I had to put in two power boxes and I amp everything out. I have cords running for all different parts of the house.”
You might think Del Regno is something of an inventor or engineer. Nope. He’s the chief marketing officer for a biotech company.
This Halloween extravaganza? It started small.
“One year, we had a few people coming over for Halloween and I just got a sheet and a skull and a spotlight,” Del Regno recounted. “That was the first thing I ever had and I still have it. It’s been 25 years. Each year, I wanted to do a little better and, the other thing, the technology improves every year.”
He said the real crown jewels of his show are the animatronics. “These are really the stars of the show. The spiders jump out at you.” But they were in the garage Friday afternoon – the nor’easter earlier this week and the rain forecast Saturday mean those bad boys probably won’t make an appearance until Oct. 31. It will depend on the weather, Del Regno said.
Del Regno and his wife have lived on Kenson for 19 years. That first Halloween here was a doozy.
We were putting in a new lawn and landscaping so I actually dug graves because the whole yard was going to be bulldozed. And I laid in a grave as trick-or-treaters came up. That might have been a little too intense,” he acknowledged.
A few blocks away, at 57 Brayton Street, there’s a different kind of scary – a real, old fashioned haunted house, complete with boarded up windows, cobwebs and a cemetery in the side yard. There is no gore in this display, but as on Kenson, plenty of ingenuity.
For owner Doug Truesdell, it’s an homage to a house that he cannot forget from his childhood in Buffalo, N.Y.
“When I was growing up, probably 10 years old or so, I trick-or-treated through my neighborhood like any other kid. Back then, most people didn’t do a lot of decorating. Maybe a carved pumpkin or two, and maybe a couple of things in the windows. Then one day, I came upon a house that had a coffin, and spider webs (or plastic sheets? I don’t exactly remember) all over their front porch. It wasn’t gory or too scary, it was just spooky – and cool. It really amazed me,” Truesdell related in an email.
“So the following year, I made sure to go back to the house, but upon getting there, there were no decorations. And then the year after that, I went back again – and again, no decorations. I kept going back to that house every year until I retired from trick-or-treating, but the decorations never returned. Still, it made such an impression on me that I never forgot it. It made that one Halloween extra special. And so these days, it’s not about my love of Halloween or trying to compete with anyone on decorations – it’s simply a hope to share the experience of my youth with today’s trick-or-treaters.”
Those boards across the windows? While they look real, Truesdell and his children made them out of foamcore and they are affixed not with nails but with velcro.
“We add a little something new to the house every year. We make a lot of our own decorations, which has become a great bonding experience with the kids. And we try to focus on spooky, not gory or overly scary.”
He added, “Hopefully the kids who trick-or-treat today will feel the same happiness that I did if they come to the house.”
Do you know a great Halloween house in the 02818? Let us know for next year! Leave a comment below.