No trick here, epic Halloween display is a real treat

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  • Henry Seger in front of the pirate ship he built.

  • The ship Seger built dominates the front lawn.

  • A view from the street of the pirate ship.

  • Seger getting ready to throw the switches that turn on the lights every night.

  • Seger’s first purchase was this banjo playing skeleton band. Motion sensors cause them to play “LaBamba.”

  • The Master of Ceremonies at the wedding celebration.

  • Rest in pieces is the epithet on this tombstone.

  • These pieces of some of the 100 skeletons are ‘resting’ in a box behind the display.

  • Bride and Groom listen to the Cher song “I Got You Babe.”

  • Skeleton guests at the wedding celebration.

  • Palm Reader and crystal ball.

  • This dragon lost its wings in a recent windstorm.

  • Skelton Funeral Procession is only scene ordered from Home Depot.

  • Musicians leading the second line funeral procession.

  • A skeleton at the corner of Riverview and Longview, welcoming visitors.

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By Regina Clarkin

At 80 years young, Henry Seger is gleeful when he describes the gigantic pirate ship he built and installed on his front lawn at the corner of Riverview and Longview Avenues to celebrate Halloween. “It’s so incredible to watch families come by and enjoy it,” said Seger, who adds to his epic display each year, saying, “People absolutely love it and come back every year.” 

This year, a skeleton wedding party joined the mix. “When I heard the music that accompanied the bride and groom was Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe,’ I couldn’t resist,” smiled Seger. There’s also a six-piece skeleton banjo band sitting atop a hay bale playing ‘La Bamba.’ Turn a corner and you’ll see a fortune teller and a crystal ball. Across from that scene is a haunted ‘horse drawn’ carriage and a funeral procession of skeletons. 

About six years ago Seeger was thumbing through a catalog from Ohio-based Grandin Road, and saw skeletons to decorate an outdoor scene. He purchased the band and then a Dracula set. A year or two after setting those scenes, he thought it would be fun to have a pirate ship, so he designed one and built it himself. It helps that he had the space to construct it. He and his son own Economy Oil on Highland Avenue.  All the Halloween decorations are stored there and when it’s time to set them up, he loads them onto a flatbed for transport from the shop. 

“I usually call my friend Bill Harvich from Ultimate Collision on Park Street and we get about ten guys to help us set up the ship.” Seger has perfected the location of the different scenes through the years. The first year the tents he put up to cover the scenes blew away in a wind storm and he had skeletons in bushes. That taught him to pay heed to the weather forecast and when there’s going to be high winds or rain, he and his wife, Patricia, bring certain things into the house.  One recent evening the wind blew the wings off the dragon that graces the front walkway. That’s a piece that mesmerizes kids, said Seger as he was filling a smoke machine near the life-sized figure.  

It takes weeks to set up the massive display, which includes 100 skeletons and counting. This year Seger started in mid-September, but said next year he wants to begin right after Labor Day. “It takes me a bit longer, since I’m not as young as I was!” There are five on and off switches for all the lights that illuminate the displays, and he refills the smoke machines every night. 

On Halloween, Seger and his wife give out about 700 pieces of candy. Expecting even more visitors this year, he plans to buy an additional 300 pieces. “People are so respectful and if I’m out they wave or honk. My neighbors are so good to put up with this,” he added, saying he doesn’t want any of the displays to scare children – “nothing gory.” 

Economy Oil is the latest business for Seger. He began his career at Paraco Fuel when home heating oil was 12 cents a gallon. It’s now up to $6 a gallon, and Seger said it’s ‘absolutely heartbreaking’ to see how the price impacts people. “It’s tough for everybody.” He began Heatwell Fuel in 1968 and lived through the gas shortages of the early 70’s when his trucks ran on gas rather than diesel. “I had a friend with a gas station and we’d take our trucks in at night to fill up,” he recalled. Later there was a heating oil shortage, and now it’s the high price that’s got everyone talking.

With the stress of the home heating oil business, it’s no wonder Seger gets enjoyment out of the Halloween season when he brings delight to hundreds of parents and kids alike. “I thought it was going to be great for kids, but parents like it even more.”