Attalla family goes all out decorating for Halloween

William Harden is used to people driving slowly past his house and staring into his front yard. Their elaborate Halloween decorations attract a lot of attention. William has been setting up a display in the yard for about nine years. Each year the display gets a little more elaborate. He estimates he's spent 500 dollars this year alone. The new features this year include a moving skeleton butler that talks, a candy dish with an animated hand in the center, a homemade coffin and the addition of many tombstones to their graveyard. The Hardens have also painted Halloween elements on the black tarp that hangs across their yard and front porch hiding some of the functional pieces of their operation. Harden has a background in haunted houses and Halloween dating back to the 80s when he worked at the haunted house put on by the Glencoe Jaycees. Years after he stopped participating in the event, he realized he was still missing the excitment. Harden credits his wife, Deborah, with inspiring him to do something about it. "We got married and I found his weird side," Deborah said, when asked how the whole thing got started. The first year Harden started out with a mannequin wearing black work boots, white weatherproof material and a "Scream" mask. When the time came for trick-or-treating, Harden took the place of the mannequin and scared the unsuspecting candy seekers. This year Deborah will be the guardian angel of the yard, donning her wedding dress and angel wings. She will act as the gatekeeper to make sure children of all ages enjoy the display. "I let them know what ages are coming and if they have to stand still or take their masks off," she said. All the visitors get candy and treats, but only those old enough to handle it get scared. This is the first year their sons, Matthew and Christopher, will be dressed up and helping out with the event. "They used to be too scared. We had bedtime early (on those days)," Deborah said. Harden shows his excitement in his face as he talks about scaring the visitors to his yard. "Some of the simplest things will catch them off guard," Harden explained. Repeat trick-or-treaters are aware of Harden's presence, but end up startled or running away nonetheless once he appears. He tells stories of chasing a woman around her fiancé's truck while the man cracked up, parents opening car doors and telling him to scare their children who were too timid to come out on their own, and teenage boys hightailing it out of the yard until they were half a block away -- with Harden right behind them. "It's just fun," he said. One year, Harden, who is a hazmat technician for EWS Alabama, Inc. in Glencoe, had to go to work on Halloween. People refused to believe he wasn't there, lurking in the shadows and waiting for a chance to scare them, despite Deborah's reassurance that he was not at home. "This is one year we can get really into without having to worry about getting up for work the next day," Harden said. Harden said his favorite part of the event is working together with his wife, and he has more fun when she participates. Last year Deborah had to sit down she was laughing so hard, Harden said. "It tickles me to see grown men run," Deborah said in response. But while Halloween is when William goes all out, Deborah's holiday will be coming up in a few months. "We've come to a mutual understanding. Halloween is my time. Christmas is her time," Harden said. Currently he doesn't devote as much time and effort to his Christmas decorations, but he says in the future it's a possibility. But for now, Halloween starts taking over the yard every year around October 1 and remains a work-in-progress until the day itself arrives. "It's just surprising to me how many people come by and make sure we are setting up," Harden said. "I've got some plans for next year already. I'm constantly thinking of something."

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