FORT MILL TOWNSHIP — The scariest part of Allen and LouAnn Lamb’s Halloween is how much effort and elbow grease they put into it. Otherwise, the annual sidewalk theatrical production is all in good, clean fun.
“I feel like I’m a weird Santa,” Allen said. “The neighbors tolerate us doing this.”
The Lambs moved to Baxter in 2001. He’s in sales, she in marketing. They sing. They tinker with audio/video gadgets. And each year, for just one night, they turn their 7144 Michael Scott Crossing address into part ghoul-fest, part street theater.
Past themes include Frankenstein, Beetlejuice, Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, a mummy and pirates. They won’t reveal the theme to adult nor child in advance. LouAnn handles stage makeup and candy, while Allen entertains with parody performances every 15 minutes or so.
“Phantom’s when the singing started,” LouAnn said.
Phantom included a swinging, zipline chandelier. Others brought a 17-foot pyramid, wolfman cage, two tons of sand, coffin to hold nine comfortably, even a 12-foot pirate ship complete with canon and “drunken” sailors. The Lambs plan out their displays a couple years in advance and already have gear for next year.
“Every spare minute, every glass of wine, every campfire it’s, ‘What are we going to do?’” LouAnn said.
Married 36 years with grown children, the Lambs bond over their extreme Halloween. Allen loves that he gets to be “Walt Disney for a day,” LouAnn said. It all started when their daughter wrote in a journal at school that Halloween – not Thanksgiving or Christmas – was her favorite holiday “because I get to walk in the dark with my dad.”
“The reason we do it is so that children will have a memory of where they grew up,” Allen said.
Not just a few children, either. Last year, neighbors lost count after pumping out candy for 600. The Lambs have been approached about taking their act on the road. Yet still it’s just the one night, from around dusk until time when kids probably ought to be in bed.
“The next day he tears it down, we plant pansies and it’s like it never happened,” LouAnn said.
Halloween is a collective hobby for the Lambs – and, boy, do they collect. Birthday presents often are costumes or stage props, once an outdoor fountain to run red water through a skeleton. Vacations often detour toward pawn shops and thrift stores.
There are rules. No murdering zombies, no soulless creatures. Everything must be family appropriate. Dracula can’t come out until dark. There has to be something educational – an archaeological dig sandbox with mummy, for instance – as “some sort of justification” for the festivities.
Every year is special for the Lambs, perhaps more so this year. That daughter whose journal started it all? She’ll be attending with a grandson, 1, who’ll see it for the first time.
The Lambs admit that it’s a consuming way to spend a holiday. Both take a week of vacation at Halloween. But, they say, the excitement on the made-up or masked faces of neighborhood children makes the ordeal worth it. Plus, there’ll always be other holidays for the couple to take it easy.
“We’ll hang a wreath on the door for Christmas,” Allen said.