Shrieks, surprises await at the Scappoose Halloween House
For most, giant fanged spiders, freaky funhouse clowns, wild-eyed witches and a blackened cemetery gate are the stuff of nightmares. For Kristen Younts of Scappoose, such horror paraphernalia is part of her daily life a few months out of the year.
Younts, 38, recalled how her father loved Christmas and would set up elaborate displays around the holiday. It was nice, but she and her brother, Travis Moffatt, favored Halloween.
"I just always loved Halloween," she said.
Younts and her family — her fiancé, Kevin Henderson, and the couple's boys, Seth, 15, Peyton, 14 and Channing, 12 — start decorating what has been dubbed the "Scappoose Halloween House" in late summer.
"We start in August, making sure everything is still working," she said.
As of the first of October, Younts estimated it was about 8o% finished. Typically it would be all wrapped up like a mummy at this point, but the early onset of rainy, cold weather stymied the family's efforts. Still, the home's Halloween décor, including animatronics and mood lighting —it's best experienced at night! —is likely to far exceed the expectations of most passersby and will be running full bore by Halloween night.
The Scappoose Halloween House is a tradition that has been growing over the last four years since Younts has been in the southwest Scappoose neighborhood. While she's always decorated her house for Halloween, her ambition swelled year after year.
"I've always decorated my house, but not to this extent," she said.
The hunt for Halloween décor and special effects never stops, she added.
"We search all year, like, what are we going to add this year?" she said. "We try to have a little bit of different sections."
Last year the family carved out a walled nook for zombies and a skeletal pirate ensemble, the latter courtesy of donations she received from her brother Travis in Oregon City who enjoys his own displays. Henderson, her fiancé, took point on the pirates as well as several sticks-and-stones designs evocative of the cult hit movie, "Blair Witch Project." As for whether he has fully embraced Younts' enthusiasm for the displays, she said he's coming around.
"I think he just likes to make me happy," she said. "I don't think he's as crazy about it as I am, but he's getting into it." In fact, the Halloween decorations can be as infectious as the spread of a viral zombie plague and other homes in the neighborhood have picked up their game.
Playing on the social media gag that turned into a real-life initiative to rush Area 51, the famed U.S. military installation suspected of housing extraterrestrial aliens, this year's display includes a crashed flying saucer and a mock-up of an E.T. holding pen from materials she scored on a buy-sell-trade Facebook group. In fact, many of the displays are homemade, crafted from odds and ends discovered at local thrift shops or online forums.
Last year, Moffatt estimates more than 400 trick-or-treaters — a number arrived at based on the volume of distributed candy — showed up at her doorstep. She's hoping to boost that number even further. Last month she deployed a clever marketing plan to whip up visitor enthusiasm. She painted rocks in classic Halloween scenes, hid them scavenger hunt-style throughout Columbia County and piqued social media interest by offering hints on their locations.
The rocks include messages taped to the back asking their finders to tag a photo of themselves with the rock, which is then posted to the Scappoose Halloween House social media pages.
The house also attracts those who just stop at the curb to take a gander. This year, she even received an offer from a Scappoose man who wants to don his creepy costume and lurk on select evenings, adding to the fear factor.
While many homeowners might get freaked out from such a reaction, not Younts.
"The more the merrier for us," she said, laughing.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.