The Brundage family has had the corner on Halloween for the past two decades.
Their ranch-style home at Parker Boulevard and Dushane Drive in the Town of Tonawanda attracts hundreds of onlookers with its lawn full of inflatable ghouls, witches, skeletons and one gigantic tarantula.
“It was for kids – of all ages. We go crazy for Halloween,” said Donald Brundage, who has lived in the house since the 1960s.
But three years ago, Brundage and his son Daniel got a pre-Halloween scare.
They ran out of space.
That’s when Brundage knocked on his neighbor’s door and asked to borrow some lawn.
“Over the years, he would ask if he could use part of my grass, and slowly it took over my yard,” said next-door neighbor Michael Sirianni. “All this stuff belongs to him. So we turned it into two yards, and now we go around the corner for another two yards. The reason it grew here is that we saw how much people enjoyed it, so we decided to be part of it, too.”
In all, four families participate in the outdoor Halloween display, but it’s the Brundages who supply the decor, which was accumulated over the years through online purchases and post-Halloween sales.
“We started decorating for my wife, Bev, who was housebound with rheumatoid arthritis,” said Brundage. “She would sit in the living room and look at the decorations. It made her happy.
“But after she passed away in 2000, we started going really big, just putting everything up for the kids in memory of her."
In this neighborhood, Halloween began in late September. That’s when Brundage, who continues to work as an architect at age 76, his son Daniel, 54, and the Siriannis first decked their lawns with strings of orange lights.
“We started with the witches,” said Sirianni, 37, a property claims supervisor for Erie Insurance. “We change it up every year. Dan is the designer. He’ll say: ‘This year you get the witches, the cats and the ghosts.’ Last year I had the graveyard.”
Add candy corn that lights up, a train that blows up and 12-foot tall figures of Dracula and Frankenstein. Two inflatable haunted houses are located between the Sirianni and Brundage homes.
“On Halloween, the kids can walk through,” Sirianni explained. “Otherwise, children are not allowed on the lawn because the fine black wires that support the inflated figures cannot be seen at night.”
Emergency repairs occur daily. Light bulbs need to be replaced; windblown archways require stabilization.
“If it gets even slightly windy, they fall over,” Sirianni said of the inflatables. “Wind hurts us more than rain. They are big balloons is all they are. It takes us three weeks to put it up – little by little – and then one day to take it down, the day after Halloween. I installed some new electrical outlets this year just to make sure we had enough.”
Last year Sirianni’s electric bill for the decor was about $150, a worthwhile investment, he said, when you consider the megawatt smiles worn by visitors of all ages.
This marks the fourth year the spirited Sirianni family of Faraday Road has participated.
Amy, a registered nurse at Kenmore Mercy Hospital, and daughters Miah, 10; Avah, 9; and Myrandah, 6, all help out.
Two more homeowners on Faraday recently joined the Halloween hijinks: Bella Bolt, whose son just celebrated the arrival in the mail of a mask like the one worn by Jason in “Friday the 13th: Part VII,” and Elisa Nye.
Debbie A. Lucken, 47, who lives across the street on Dushane, is not involved in the decorating, but she does appreciate the way the Halloween lights brighten her neighborhood.
“There’s a line of cars every single night,” Lucken said as she sat outside in a lawn chair. “It puts a smile on everyone’s face.”
On one recent day, Anthony Viola visited the display on his way home from school. The five-year-old, who is called “A.J.,” sat in the backseat of a car driven by his grandmother Cynthia Mannino.
A.J. may be the display’s biggest fan. He visits as often as twice a day: once after school if he had a good day, and again at night when the lawns light up sidewalks crowded with visitors.
Peter Farrell, 43, has delivered mail for the U.S. Postal Service for 18 years. He walks six or seven miles daily delivering to 500 homes in neighborhoods surrounding Parker Boulevard. During his travels, Farrell said he has become somewhat of an expert on outdoor decor.
“Some people do a nice job, but there is nothing quite like these houses,” Farrell said. “Day by day I see it take form. It’s a real labor of love.”
Last year, the Halloween display evolved into a food drive.
“People offer us money, but we won’t take money,” Sirianni said. “We had to do something, so we started to collect nonperishable food items. My garage was packed with food last year.”
All food collected benefits the Benedict House on Main Street in Buffalo, where Bolt works as food service manager and volunteer coordinator. The Benedict House is a nonprofit organization housing people with AIDS. Last year “Parker Halloween Lights” – the name of its Facebook page – collected $1,500 in canned goods.
This year, the goal is 2,000 pounds of nonperishable items, according to Sirianni, who added that Erie Insurance planned to donate $1,000.
And what happens the day after Halloween?
The decorations are boxed and stacked inside the two-car garage. Inflatables pack up nicely, according to Brundage.
“Just figure it out,” said Brundage, who works as an architect in Amherst at a company he formed. “Take a balloon and let the air out. What do you get? A 10-foot inflatable minus the air translates into about one cubic foot. The only thing that takes up space is the motor, and that’s made from plastic. If there were no motors, you could put all the decorations in a 10-by-10-foot box.”