82 skeletons and counting in South Elgin Halloween display
Does looking for Halloween skeletons everywhere you go and amassing 82 of them in your front yard -- and counting -- classify as an obsession?
Perhaps, said Tom Schaefer of South Elgin, but if so, it's a good obsession. "No animals or people were harmed to create this," he said, laughing.
Schaefer and his wife, Cathy, bought their 82nd skeleton, an owl, in downtown Toronto during their ninth wedding anniversary trip last week. They have a few more in their garage that will join their "bone yard" at 1124 Kane St.
The couple created a Facebook page called "Bone Yard of South Elgin" and stocked up on Halloween candy in the shape of bones.
"In years past we either got no trick-or-treaters or maybe one or two. Last year it kicked up a little and we got 25," Schaefer said.
"I'm hoping now that the 'bone yard' is getting better, and I made the Facebook page and people told other people about it ... that maybe we actually will get a good number of trick-or-treaters."
The whole thing started three years ago with a human skeleton, the kind used in anatomy school, Schaefer said. The next year, Schaefer made an archway that said "bone yard" and added a horse and a dragon. By year three, there were 26 skeletons. And then came the post-Halloween sales.
"Last year after Halloween, we ended up going kind of overboard and went crazy," Schaefer said. "We got all this stuff at 50 percent and 75 percent off."
The skeletons range from 1½-inch fairies to 6-foot horses, and the couple gave the name "Dave" to the main skeleton under the archway.
Dave soon will become much more frightful because he will start talking to people, Schaefer said, explaining he plans to hook him up to a microphone in the house. "I can't wait to do this and see the looks on the kids' faces," he said.
There are three dragons -- Ember, Ash and Brimstone -- and a guy on a horse from which red flames of light shoot out at night, like the character Carter Slade in the movie "Ghost Rider," Schaefer explained.
Other people have contributed skeletons to the display, including neighbor Max Topf, who donated a cat and a spider.
"The stuff he does is amazing," Max Topf said. "It's unbelievable. I love it. So many people drive by and take pictures of it."
Halloween has a special significance for the Schaefers, because Tom's father died in October 2010 and three years later, on Halloween, Cathy's father died.
"For a few years after that, after 2013, we kind of kept Halloween low, just because of the memories," Schaefer said. "Then we both kind of figured, 'Look, our dads wouldn't want us to take our favorite holiday and make it so we don't like it anymore.'"
Thinking of the bone yard is a year-round thing, Schaefer said.
"We're always looking at stores and stuff, and if we see something we really like and we don't have it, we pick it up."
But the Schaefers draw the line at real bones.
"As much as I would like to get a real skull and put it on the mantle," Schafer said, "my wife's like, 'No, you're not bringing that 'juju' into the house.'"