By Konstantine Fekos
Trick-or-treaters walking by 18831 Maple Lane will be hard-pressed to miss the veritable monster mash that is Connie Haibach’s yard.
With almost a dozen looming inflatables and hundreds of lights and decorations, depicting all manner of skeletons, witches, spiders and ghouls, the Haibach residence has become something of a Halloween shrine every fall for the past 15 years.
“You can see it from the road and that’s the idea,” Connie said, her eyes roaming over her menagerie of spooky characters. “It’s a real show after dark.”
Connie and her husband, Gary, start emptying the attic around Oct. 1 each year in preparation for the 30 or so hours it takes to set up flood lights, lay heavy-duty extension cables across the lawn, decorate the bushes and trees, deploy the fog machines and set the rest of the scene.
With occasional maintenance and handywork, often requiring additional family members, the spooky scene lasts beyond Oct. 31.
“I used to do it myself up until the past three years,” Connie said, noting the strain it puts on the electrical system. “I got a 100 amp subpanel just to handle it all.”
Come trick-or-treat hours, which are today from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Saegertown and numerous other Crawford County municipalities, Connie can be found reprising her role as “Witchiepoo,” a character she describes as a different kind of Halloween witch.
“I wear a cape and a witch’s hat and face paint, but I don’t want to be a scary witch,” she said. “I put on a curly blonde wig and bling makeup.”
A partner in the act, Gary expects to don his skeleton costume as well as the moniker “Igor” to support Witchiepoo throughout the night.
Other family members, often dressed as witches and the like, stand by the road to usher trick-or-treaters safely through the yard.
Having moved from a previous Saegertown residence in 1986, the Haibachs noticed less trick-or-treat traffic for the first few years in their current location.
Connie likened her situation to the 1989 baseball film Field of Dreams, where, “If you build it, they will come.”
A field of screams doesn’t build itself, however, and the Haibachs brewed their legacy of Halloween spirit from scratch, collecting decorations from catalogues and various shops over the years.
Drawing from an almost genetic love for holidays, Connie turns her yard into a Halloween wonderland to share fun moments she said made her childhood Halloweens magical.
Incidentally, many of those fun memories revolve around candy — a less common and more precious commodity in her childhood trick-or-treating days, she recalled.
“The places we remembered as kids were the ones that gave out big candy bars,” she said. “Halloween was the only time other than Easter when you got so much candy.”
Wanting to share the love, Connie passes out full candy bars indiscriminately to kids and adults of all ages during and after conventional trick-or-treat times, at least while supplies last.
“We’ve gotten people from other areas like Meadville, Saegertown and even (Guys Mills),” she said. “We try and stay out until about 9 p.m. so people coming from other areas can experience it.”
Last year, the Haibachs gave out approximately 200 candy bars — their current record. Connie expects that record to be broken this year.
Prior generations of trick-or-treaters have even brought their children to experience the fun, Connie added.
“It’s not scary-scary, but (it’s) what I think is a real Halloween,” she said, emphasizing the resulting electric bill is usually the true horror.
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.