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Building your scream home

You, too, can brave your way through Halloween decorating

Posted: September 26, 2008 8:13 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A flying ghoul floats over the Halloween decoration display at Do It Center in Valencia. Other than Christmas, Americans spend more on Halloween than on any other holiday.

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Big fun, big business or big hassle, there’s no getting away from it. These days Halloween is big time. Though the haunted holiday is still five weeks away, it’s already in the stores, and if you want to get the good stuff, decoration-wise, now is the time.

So, where do you go for the good stuff?

You might be surprised, but those in the know, know. One of the largest selections of Halloween decorations and gadgetry that you may ever come across is found at the Do It Center in Valencia. And it’s fully up and howling already.

“Our Halloween display is the best in the SCV,” said Dean Hopgood, Do It Center assistant manager. “It was fully set up by Sept. 13, and it will probably be low on supplies a week before Halloween.”

So, whether you like it or not, it’s time to get your spook on.

Hopgood, who grew up on a farm, said, “Halloween used to be you go buy a pumpkin and put a candle in it. Now, a lot of people have more fun with Halloween than Christmas.”

Ghouls ‘n things
The Do It Center (which also puts up a huge Christmas display each year) can help you have your Halloween fun, whether you are searching for just the right scare or want to bring the kids in to enjoy the atmosphere of all the decorations on display at once. With motion-activated ghouls and spiders and such lighting up, shaking and crying out as you walk past, it’s quite an experience.

“We always come here for Halloween,” said Trish Dunn. She had come to the store with her one-month-old son Carson and his three-year-old brother Donovan. While Carson was a bit young to appreciate things, Donovan was in haunted heaven, bouncing around from display to display and clutching a bunch of bones.

“It’s really fun to see a little exuberant kid like that,” Hopgood said.

And though he admitted the store employees spend a bit of time each night putting things back in order after a full day of handling, he felt it was all good. “This is what Halloween is all about, when little kids come in. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it.”

The first thing you notice as you enter the Do It Center is the gigantic “flying” ghouls hanging from the ceiling. With their huge, monstrous heads, widespread, clutching arms and ghostly raiment, they are the advance guard of an army of scary decorations and demons. Varying in price, these range from the pirate, at $149.99, to the green monster, at $249.99.

The center of the Halloween display is an inflatable haunted house, which goes for $449.99. Though you can accessorize it any way you want, the Do It Center had it fully decked-out with motion activated creatures, including ghouls, spiders and skeletons. This made it quite an experience to pass through.

One of the really unique items on display is the Roaming Reaper, at $59.99. This sound-activated creature roams around the store on its own, suddenly turning on, lighting up and howling when surprised visitors walk by. Hopgood said the employees love it but it has to be turned off at night or a car horn might activate it and the creature’s motion might activate the store alarms.

Other big-ticket items in the haunt include stay-in-place ghouls ($119.99) and a witch that stirs a pot ($149.99). There are several inflatable yard pieces, including a hearse at $99.99.

A “shed” full of life sized creatures hangs ghouls and reapers and scarecrows and scary clowns, each at $29.99.

The wall of “assorted weapons of torture” offers up faux implements of chopping and stabbing and slicing in all forms. A jar of spare eyeballs goes for $15.99. You can get a bag of bones for $14.99 and various fog machines, including a skull fogger at $29.99 and a crystal ball fogger at $39.99. An item that haunts and also provides safety for trick-or-treaters at night is the skull lantern, at $19.99.

Halloween lights are quite popular these days and the Do It Center has skull yard stakes at $14.99, LED light strings at $9.99 and $4.99, and Halloween lighted garlands at $7.99.

Fright factor
If you remember the portraits in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, you will appreciate the Frightening Frames ($4.99), where a soldier turns into a grim reaper, depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

You can also decorate your body in many ways for Halloween. Miami Ink offers a tattoo shirt at $9.99 that Hopgood said is very realistic. “I put one on one day and took it off an hour later. The next day a woman came in and asked, ‘Didn’t you have tattoos yesterday?’” he said.

Hopgood said that the Do It Center discriminates in its offerings. “We try to do the buying to keep it limited to stuff that is not terrifying — a little scary but not bloody. One time we had stuff in here that I refused to put on the floor because it looked so awful,” he said.

Hopgood said that most of the Halloween items are made in China and that “We have a buyer that starts ordering this stuff, probably in January. He has a book and goes to China to see what they have.”

Naturally, those that visit the Do It Center early will get the best selection in their Halloween purchases. However, you might stop in after Halloween for the clearance sale on the leftovers. “The pickings will be pretty slim, but we really knock the price down,” Hopgood said.

Wind and water
Whenever you put Halloween decorations up outside your home, you have to consider how appropriate they are for the conditions. This is especially true with the large, inflatable yard decorations. In regard to these “blow-ups” Hopgood said, “Take them down when it is windy or when it rains.”

He explained that, when it rains, the fan will suck the water into the blow-up and you won’t be able to get it out.

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