'Tis the season: to tour Halloween light displays

Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:05am EDT
 
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By Fiona Ortiz

NAPERVILLE Ill. (Reuters) - Breathtaking purple-and-orange light displays, zombie graveyards, mutilated mannequins and singing inflatable pumpkins are just some of the front-yard Halloween decorations that Americans are expected to spend $7.4 billion on this year.

In the Chicago suburb of Naperville, the displays got so elaborate that Annette Wehrli decided to set up a tour.

Wehrli's Naperville Trolley & Tours, which has run tours of Christmas lights for 19 years, put Halloween on the schedule at the suggestion of enthusiastic residents of the sprawling upper middle-class city of 200,000.

The tour, which costs $15 a head, ends on Conan Doyle Road, where Nick Thomas' house with a zombie apocalypse on the lawn and a light show of singing skulls programmed to music has become a Youtube sensation.

"When the lights go on you can see it from outer space," said Thomas, 60, a self-described kid at heart who began decorating his lawn 20 years ago when his children were small.

He has plenty of company if not at the same scale.

About half of consumers plan to decorate their home or yard each year and national spending on Halloween in 2014 is expected to hit a near-record at $7.4 billion, a National Retail Federation survey found.

"I'm the only freak who's doing all this," said Thomas, gesturing at a forest of gigantic ghouls, vampires, gravestones, pumpkins, corpses, wraiths and zombies.   Continued...

 
A visitor to a house covered in Halloween decorations looks over the scene in the front yard in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois, October 27, 2014. 
REUTERS/Jim Young