October 19, 2022 at 3:51 p.m.

Halloween have

Halloween have
Halloween have

By Jan Lefebvre- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Schmoll family shares holiday fun

Kitty-corner from the old golf course along Lake Shore Drive, the Schmoll family is busy putting up their annual Halloween display for the community to enjoy. Halloween enthusiasts Anna and Brendan Schmoll are passing on their love of the holiday to their daughters, four-year-old Payton and two-year-old Allie. In fact, it is now Payton who alerts her parents when it is time to bring out the skeletons and start hanging the lights.

“We do have to hold her off a bit; otherwise, we’d have the decorations up in June,” Anna said. “She helps out, hauling the skeletons around, and they’re bigger than she is. You’d think most little kids would be afraid of them, but she has always taken to them.”

Ever since the family bought their house, which they feel especially fond of because it was built by Sauk Centre high schoolers through a construction course offered then, the Schmolls have been decorating for Halloween, the displays getting bigger since the first one in 2017.

“We try to keep adding a few fun things every year,” Anna said.

There are two ways that the Schmolls share their display with the community. Leading up to Halloween Day, they first place the decorations throughout their yard for passersby to enjoy.

“People will slow down when they’re driving by, and they look at different things and even take pictures,” Brendan said. “It’s fun watching that. Kids on the school bus stick their faces to the windows as they go by.”

Then, on Halloween day, they move all the decorations to their driveway so that trick-or- treaters can see the display items up close and won’t miss anything.

Anna, who grew up in Sauk Centre, is an optometrist by trade but is currently working from home in telehealth. Brendan, a chiropractor, has a practice in town. Back when they first met, it didn’t take too long for each to discover the other’s love for all things Halloween.

“I suppose we didn’t want to scare each other away the first year or two, but shortly after that, we realized we liked (Halloween),” Brendan said. “We didn’t have kids then, but we felt like kids about it. After we got married, we started accumulating more and more stuff.”

That stuff is now stored in the rafters in the garage and in the basement.

“My wife has the black Rubbermaid containers with the orange tops,” Brendan said. “That way we know which ones have the things for Halloween.”

Both Anna and Brendan credit their parents for giving them a fun attitude about the holiday.

“My parents spent a lot of time with it,” Brendan said. “We used to do a haunted trail in the woods and little Halloween parties. We did a pumpkin carving contest with my family. Every year my mom would even have a surprise guest to judge our pumpkins, and she’d have prizes.”

Anna has fond memories too and enjoys the freedom of personal style that comes with the holiday.

“Growing up, my mom always did decorations in the house and dressed up, and my dad always had us carve pumpkins,” Anna said. “It’s a holiday where you can celebrate as much as you want or as little as you want. There really aren’t any rules. If you want skeletons, great. If you want Snoopy, you can go with Snoopy. There’s a lot of versatility.”

As for Anna, she wants pirates. It’s been the Schmoll family Halloween theme for years – although they are having a little trouble finding the right decorations lately because pirates are not as popular as they once were. They have had to pivot a bit. Anna credits her pirate interest to a trip to Disney World as a youngster and going on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

“I’m not into horror films,” Anna said. “I like ‘Hocus Pocus,’ ‘Hotel Transylvania,’ ‘Casper,’ the PG stuff; I’m not into Freddy Krueger and all that. You don’t have to like horror to enjoy Halloween.”

She and Brendan have built a few of the items they display, but with time being a factor, they mostly purchase a few things each year. They discovered the time saved by using solar-lighted decorations because there are no battery changes needed, so now they look for that when buying new lights and talking skeletons.

The Schmoll display has also grown in popularity throughout the previous five years of its existence. The first year, they had one skeleton dressed as a pirate and a little ship that Brendan made. Anna laughs when recalling how small that was compared with today.

“We had that (first display) sitting in the yard that was all dirt because we didn’t yet have grass or anything,” she said. “I think we had eight kids come (to trick or treat), and half of those were kids that we told to come.”

Last year, they had around 70 kids trick or treat there, which is a large number since the Schmoll house is by no means in an area of town that would normally have heavy trick-or-treating traffic.

“And we didn’t have to tell them to come,” Anna said.

As they work on this year’s display, the Schmolls plan to continue their annual activity for years to come.

“Our kids love it,” Brenden said. “Then, watching the other kids as they come trick or treating is fun too. I don’t necessarily want to stop, so hopefully we’ll keep doing this for quite a while.”

Like Brendan, Anna doesn’t mind doing some work to keep giving the community a little more Halloween fun each year.

“As they say, if you enjoy doing it, it’s not work,” Anna said.


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