On an otherwise normal trick or treat night on Autumnwood Drive in Ferguson Township, an army of gruesome skeletons were attempting to dig themselves out of what was an otherwise well-maintained lawn.
Some had made it farther than others.
For every head and torso that had risen successfully above grass level, there remained a set of boney fingers that couldn’t quite go the distance, faltering under the burdens of being undead and inanimate in America at the same time.
Being made of plastic couldn’t have helped all that much either.
The skeletal dummies were part of a cemetery tableau that Bill Kerns has cultivated in his front yard every Halloween for the past 10 years — and like most lawns turned theme parks, it started small.
“I threatened to make a coffin and then I did,” Kerns said
The tombstones came later. So did the guillotine. And the blood fountain.
Soon he had an entire narrative, the road from dead to undead, spread out next to his driveway.
“It keeps me out of trouble,” Kerns said.
He’s what one might call a Halloween enthusiast. Each of Kerns’ homemade tombstones bears the name of a character played by Vincent Price, an actor famous for his work in horror films.
Kerns started reassembling his own private valley of the dead at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and had barely finished by the time a crowd of Centre Region trick-or-treaters arrived at his doorstep later that night.
The spooky spectacle was a major draw. Two ninjas and a bear stopped to pose for a picture in front of the “Autumnwood Cemetery” gates and Kerns’ doorstep remained a high-traffic area for costumed kids looking to score.
Even 2-year-old Emma Horn possessed enough intuition to realize that a guy who had spent roughly eight hours setting up Halloween decorations probably had some choice candy.
Her instinct paid off. Emma returned to her stroller the proud new owner of a full-sized Hershey bar, an impressive conquest for her first trick-or-treat excursion.
In honor of the occasion, her parents had selected a Tinker Bell ensemble that popped against her twin brother Ethan’s Knight of the Round Table attire.
It showed a lot of taste for a couple of rookies — but what else would you expect from the children of parents suited-up as Ghostbusters?
Paul Horn, the twins’ father, said that both of the kids weren’t sure what to anticipate from this whole Halloween thing.
“They’re still getting there,” Horn said.
The Hershey bar certainly seemed like a step in the right direction.