There’s some unusual sounds coming from the front yard of Barb Stoke’s home in Esquimalt these days.
People screaming, eerie music, and haunting voices shout “You are walking into your doom!” to those who dare to approach the front door. Creepy skeletons and witches hang from trees decked out in colourful lights while tombstones line the front lawn. A giant spider lurks by the front door, waiting to jump at unsuspecting visitors.
For Stokes, it’s a wonderful time of the year.
“I just love it,” said Stokes, who began decorating her house for Halloween about nine years ago with a few things from the Dollar Store. “It just grew from there. This year my daughter sent me a picture of somebody who had done a house in the states with skeletons on the side of the house and I thought, oh I got to do that.”
Stokes’ impressive collection of Halloween decorations began with about 30 hanging skeletons and a few things stuck in the window. But gradually it grew to large decorations going into the ground. Now, the 70-year-old has at least 15 bins of Halloween decorations, and recently inherited three more from a neighbour who moved out of town.
Stokes makes sure she has everything in place come Oct. 1, but has been adding more things as Halloween draws near. She’s also taken decorations across the street to make sure her neighbours have just as much fun.
“My house definitely sticks out on the block. They (the kids) all love it,” said Stokes, who had about 80 trick or treaters that came to her home on Norma Court last year. “The main thing is seeing the enjoyment the children get out of coming to see it.”
Stokes isn’t the only one who’s been gearing up for Halloween since the start of the month. The City of Victoria has embarked upon a month-long Halloween campaign, adding a number of spooky additions to the city.
A swarm of fake bats now make their home in Trounce Alley, trees on Government Street are lit up in orange and green lights — some with luminescent eyes — and the Bay Centre has become The Bat Centre at the Fort Street entrance, complete with a bat cyclone and a smoking gothic-style fountain.
Black cats are also perched around the downtown core, and a witch flies over the clock tower at city hall. A bat cyclone is also planned for Centennial Square.
Now in its third year, the Halloween campaign has caught the attention of other cities, and has been featured in the New York Times, Vancouver Sun and the Calgary Herald.
“It is another tourism driver for us,” said Trina Moussea, chief marketing officer at Tourism Victoria.
“Our destination makes us an authentic and fun Halloween experience that makes us the perfect getaway to get your spook on and the world is taking notice.”
For more information visit TourismVictoria.com/Halloween.