Matt Harris is going to throw a few limbs on the grill in Auburn.

John DeRienzo is dressing as Santa to his wife’s Mrs. Claus, passing out Christmas candy with their adorable 3-year-old twin elves in front of a Monmouth house gone full-Griswold.

Peter Geiger is ready in Lewiston with 6,000 candy bars and a 1,000-candy-bar safety net in case the night really takes off.

It’s a pandemic, it’s days before an ugly election and it’s nearly, thankfully!, Halloween — there’s hardly been a better time to bring on the socially distant spooks, smiles and screams.

“It gives some normalcy because of all that’s going on,” said Migdalia “Mindy” Mass, who is decking out Auburn’s historic William A. Robinson house at 11 Forest Ave. for the second year in witches and ghosts galore. “Go around the neighborhood and check out people’s homes and not feel like stuff is icky and really scary out there, but fake scary.”

A macabre barbecue of body parts at the Terror on Turner Street in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Fake scary, like, say, a madman grilling body parts at the Terror On Turner Street in Auburn.

“We put a fog machine under the grill, so when the lid’s lifted, it looks like there’s steam coming off it,” said Harris, who has put on the free annual outdoor event with a core group of friends since 2014.

Several years ago, they added a walk-through haunted hallway, using plastic sheeting to create several rooms where you’ll find things like a hazmat scene, a giant spiderweb and a life-size jack-in-the-box. Some years, someone pops out. Some years, they don’t, so you can never be sure . . .

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger every year, so now we start planning out in early August,” said Harris. “My

Emily Harris checks out the cobwebbed landscaping as Theresa Goodson regards the dismembered body parts at the Terror on Turner Street in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

basement looks like a scene out of Disney right now, there’s all these props. We try to build our props ourselves, to save money.”

The friends hustle for months and get a kick out of everyone else getting a kick.

“Most of the night is just celebrating and talking about the different things that we’ve seen,” he said. “One year, I was a clown and I would stand extremely still. I had someone basically kiss me almost, staring at me, and they’re like, ‘I don’t know if it’s real or not.’ Just as they turned around, I moved my head and went, ‘Boo,’ and it was a full grown man — he screamed like a little girl and ran out.”

The night usually attracts hundreds. This year, they’ll be spaced out and there’s a contactless candy drop.

“Especially with everything going on in the world today, it’s something you can do, it’s outside,” Harris said. “I fully embrace, be cautious about it, be careful, but at the same time, have fun with it.”

Matt Harris walks through a darkened tunnel at the Terror on Turner Street in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Angela Cheetham lives on a stretch of Snow Hill Road in New Gloucester that doesn’t get many trick-or-treaters.

The front yard Halloween scene at Angela Cheetham’s home in New Gloucester. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Add headstones, creepy animatronics, liberally applied cobwebs and it comes alive, or, rather, undead, in October. It’s her third year going all-out, after her mother slowly started handing off her decorations and Cheetham started adding to them.

“My yard is completely covered, you can’t miss it,” she said.

Her kids, almost 8 and 13, help with the setup: “They absolutely love doing the cobwebbing, that’s like their favorite part. We’ve got it on the porch, we’ve got it out by the spider’s playhouse, we’ve got some out by the graveyard. There’s just stuff everywhere. The school bus always makes it a point to go by slow every morning.”

On Halloween night, she’ll be masked as a scary old grandma — but which scary old grandma?? — and have a bucket of candy out for people to grab if they dare stop.

The front yard Halloween scene at Angela Cheetham’s home in New Gloucester. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“Honestly, I enjoy watching the people that drive by, slow down and stop and look and point,” Cheetham said. “They’re getting enjoyment out of it, especially during these times, I think some sort of enjoyment is a good thing.”

Peter Geiger’s embracing the drive-by for 2020.

The Farmers’ Almanac editor is moving his annual Halloween bash from his home on Brentwood Avenue to Geiger headquarters on Mount Hope Avenue in Lewiston this year.

He plans to decorate with at least 10 inflatables, another dozen mechanical creatures and have skeletons climbing out of the cemetery.

This time, everyone will stay in their car and costumed kids who know Geiger’s secret password will be given a bag of three king-size candy bars each. At least a dozen people, some dressed up, some directing traffic, are helping him pull it off.

“I am told that people in Rockland are talking about me, so (I’m) concerned that I have enough for everyone,” said Geiger, hence the extra thousand bars just in case. “People appreciate that I am doing anything, but especially making it safer and more easily accessible and my ‘team’ is up to the challenge.”

Callie, left, and Gianna DeRienzo, 3, dress up as elves for their family’s Christmas-at-Halloween display in front of their home in Monmouth. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

John DeRienzo was inspired to go big this Halloween after walking down Main Street in Monmouth last April dressed as the Easter bunny.

“There was a lot of reaction from passersby, neighborhood kids and our girls loved it,” DeRienzo said. “We also saw how much fun our girls had on Halloween and Christmas last year. We thought it would be fun to kind of combine them and show people something different.”

Callie, left, and Gianna, 3, and their parents, Andrea and John DeRienzo, stand in front of the family’s Christmas-at-Halloween display at their home in Monmouth. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

He’s decked out his yard on Welch Avenue with inflatables, 3,000 lights and plans to project “Polar Express” on a screen outdoors that night.

“We’ve never been traditionally big on Halloween but last year, the girls were just over 2 years old and had a blast trick-or-treating and talked about it all year,” DeRienzo said. “My wife, Andrea, needed a slight bit of convincing at first but loves the idea. I think our neighbors must’ve thought we were crazy when we hung and tested out our lights the other night.”


The details:

• Find Terror on Turner Street at 365 Turner St., Auburn, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Oct. 31

• Find Cheetham’s display at 78 Snow Hill Road, New Gloucester

• Get king-sized bars and Halloween on the go at Geiger headquarters on Mount Hope Avenue, 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (or while supplies last), Oct. 31

• Find Christmas-on-Halloween at 42 Welch Ave., Monmouth

Emily and Matt Harris, left, and Heather and Theresa Goodson stand for a photo at the Terror on Turner Street in Auburn. The two couples have worked together on the event every year since 2014. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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