Lots of Long Islanders like to decorate their homes for Halloween, placing jack-o'-lanterns on the porch, some cobwebs in the bushes and perhaps a ghost or two hanging from the trees. But some go all out, spending hours upon hours creating over-the-top displays that bring spectators from near and far to admire, smile and maybe shudder at their wild and wonderfully wicked displays.
1 Highland Ave., Great Neck
Spooky videos are projected onto Stan Levine's Great Neck front lawn, which features pirates swinging into a pirate ship, tombstones adorned with witty phrases, talking foam pumpkins and singing witches.
“Overall, I try to make everything kid friendly,” says Levine, 51, who works in real estate management. “I try to do a lot of things that are kind of funny.”
This year, Levine introduced a skeleton dressed as Bob Ross, the late host of PBS’ “Joy of Painting.” Another display includes a hearse pulled by a skeleton with a body inside that rises and falls. There is a tombstone with an arm that reaches around and tries to grab visitors. There are video projections of faces that sing and tell jokes, a huge spider perched on the roof that lights up at night, lightning and thunder effects, and a doghouse with double two-way mirrors that create the illusion of infinity.
Levine has been creating these big Halloween displays for about 15 years. Many of the displays he makes himself out of wood and take several weeks to make, he says.
“We started with putting pumpkins out when my little ones were born. And we just added things here and there. It just grew every year,” says Levine, who has a daughter, 18, and sons, 15 and 12.
Though he was hesitant to say how much his Halloween display costs, Levine does keep within an allotted budget each year. “It’s not really how much it costs. It’s trying to put out something that looks really nice,” he says.
This Halloween, Levine will have a donation box for Ronald MacDonald House and the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
Jackson’s Haunted Cemetery
19 Abrew St., Bay Shore
Using his carpentry skills, Edward Jackson, 54, of Bay Shore, has been decorating his yard for Halloween for the past 15 years. “But it’s blown up in the past seven or eight years, and it’s just getting bigger every year,” says wife, Suzanne Jackson, 53, a retired bookkeeper.
A salesman for a home improvement store, Edward often kept discarded wood items such as pocket doors from the homes he restored in his former contracting business. “He just decided one day that he loves Halloween and he started to build caskets and tombstones,” Suzanne says.
A focal point is Dracula’s Pub, an 8-by-14-foot wooden structure with painted Styrofoam walls that resembles a stone castle that contains a bar with an animated vampire bartender, a tap that runs red-colored water filling a beer mug and a skeleton playing a piano that pipes out organ music. Some of Edward’s other creations include several full-size coffins, some of which have lights outside and fog pouring out of them and one with a hidden karaoke machine through which Edward speaks to visitors. There is a skeletal horse-pulled antique cart carrying a coffin and driven by a grim reaper and a 7-foot-tall stockade with a hanging corpse dripping blood.
A rat-eating animatronic zombie appears to be breaking out of the crate he’s in, and sound effects, music, thunder, lightning and a fog machine complete the overall creepy ambience. “Some people love sewing or crocheting,” says Suzanne. “This is his passion. He starts planning for next year probably after Christmas.”
For Edward, most of the joy in creating his Halloween scenes is coming up with the idea and then figuring out how to build it, he says. “That’s the fun of it. And seeing people enjoy it,” he adds.
For the second year, the Jacksons are accepting donations for Home Sweet Home Animal Rescue of Long Island, a Huntington-based shelter for cats.
The Viking Graveyard
3964 William St., Seaford
During the last two weeks of October for the past two decades, Brian Nietsch has turned his Seaford front lawn into what he calls “The Viking Graveyard.”
There’s an animatronic witch stirring a pot with her broom, a mad scientist lab with a skeleton working with a bubbling test tube, and a doll on a motorcycle that rocks back and forth. On Friday and Saturday nights, live actors dressed in costumes prowl the 30-by-60-foot front yard.
“I tell everybody if you have young kids, bring them during the day, because you don’t want to bring them at night,” warns Nietsch, 52, who works in school maintenance and has two daughters, ages 14 and 17.
This year, he’ll once again be collecting nonperishable food items for Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares Inc. -- The Harry Chapin Food Bank as he’s done for the past eight years and says he expects to fill six 55-gallon drums with food.
Nietsch, who plans out the Halloween display with wife, Julie, says it takes about a month to put together the whole spectacle. Though he says he has no idea how much it costs to put together and run his extravaganza, he tries “to do everything with low-voltage lighting and LEDs, so it doesn’t kill me too bad.”