Saturday, November 5, 2022

The 12-Foot Home Depot Skeleton

I saw this sucker last night, and remember the Wall Street Journal story about it What a kick, lol.

See, "In Search of a 12-Foot Home Depot Skeleton: A Halloween Shopping Spree Gone Wrong":

Our columnist was determined to join the ‘more is more’ crowd when it came to Halloween yard decor. Only problem: She didn’t start planning six months in advance.

WHILE CYCLING in the suburbs in mid-September, I stopped at a house that demonstrated the most sincere, all-encompassing commitment to Halloween I’d ever seen. Its yard was an entire Halloween cemetery, with a coven of 10-foot-tall animatronic witches gathered around a huge cauldron, casting spells and creating utter, supernatural mayhem. Life-size skeletons—some human, some animal—emerged from their graves in various states of decomposition.

Planning and executing this display had to be the focus of these homeowners’ lives for a good six months. While taking in every undead detail, I thought how fun it might be to embrace a holiday with such creative fulsomeness. As someone with an actual job, I couldn’t. But neither did I want to continue my lousy track record as a party pooper who can’t even be bothered to carve a pumpkin badly for the porch. When it comes to honoring Oct. 31, The Husband and I have traditionally hunkered down inside with a stiff drink and the front lights off, nary a Twix bar in sight. Inspired and shamed by CemeteryPalooza, I vowed to step up our game this year.

But when we finally got around to stepping up our game, it was mid-October, and we were two months too late. The Halloween section at our local Home Depot had already been taken over entirely by Christmas decor, and the store had banished whatever spooky detritus remained to a department that was also being used to store hydraulic lifts and large restocking carts. Accessing the dwindling Halloween stock involved climbing through what was essentially a jungle gym.

All that was left for Halloween were some fall-colored wreaths about to crumble under the weight of accumulated store dust, and some tiny cat, pig and dog skeletons. Trick-or-treaters would be more likely to crush them underfoot than be terrified by them. This year’s coolest stuff, like the must-have 12-foot skeleton with LCD “Life Eyes” ($299), had been out of stock for weeks. (As we had nowhere to store such a thing after Halloween, except by giving it a permanent spot on the couch, this was perhaps for the best.)

Given Home Depot’s abundance of Christmas stuff, we considered refocusing our energies on a new holiday-decor mashup: Hallowmas. Skeleton Santa and eight tiny skeleton reindeer? Zombie elves? A creche filled with severed body parts? We could coast right through Halloween and into Christmas without changing anything. We liked this direction, but worried our neighbors might look askance at such cutting-edge decor thinking.

This left us with a challenge: What could we do with a dusty orange wreath? Halloween has become a decorative arms race, and as The Husband and I had discovered, those who procrastinate are bound to lose. In the not-too-distant past, it was only the hardcore “holiday” people—whose yards serve as a rotating homage to whatever holiday was next, including Arbor Day—who really pushed the Halloween boat out. They crowded their lawns with witch-based frippery, wrapped their porches in more spiderwebs than the Earth’s entire spider population could manufacture, and always had full-size candy bars. Everybody whose decor was limited to inept pumpkins, lit by real candles, rolled their eyes while secretly envying the holiday people’s creativity and candy budget.

Today, it seems, every second neighbor is a hardcore Halloween person with the same “more is more” aesthetic embraced by throwers of extravagant first birthday parties featuring the Rockettes and gender-reveal parties with a flyover by the Blue (or will they be Pink?) Angels. In this new Halloween landscape, bigger is not just better, it is required. And based on that display I cycled past, so are spreadsheets and an entire off-site storage unit devoted to containing the undead.

We weren’t interested in recreating CemeteryPalooza, or, frankly, owning any Halloween decor that requires an outlet. But I also wasn’t prepared to give up the (hopefully discounted) ghost. So last weekend, undeterred by our Home Depot fail, we went to our local Party City, determined to find a few items to show that we were no longer Lame Halloween Ignorers—decorations that could telegraph “We are fun and creative!”

We were shocked to find the place packed with Halloween swag, especially since Home Depot had been picked so clean. Party City had 7.5-foot, light-up spiders ($75), dozens of varieties of tombstones (some that cost as little as $9), animatronic haunted toy boxes ($115 and also, super yikes). Every sort of ghastly decorative string lights you can imagine, and an entire butcher shop worth of severed body parts. It was an embarrassment of both riches and witches, which promptly paralyzed us with indecision. Would we go ‘cute scary’ or full-on ‘Hostel scary’?

Then I backed into the Animatronic 7.5-foot Tall Light-Up Talking Ice Scream Clown ($99)...