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Halloween 2020: Where Halloween took a major step back

Popular East Anchorage stop isn’t happening this year
Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 7:22 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Many people, children and pretty much anyone in Anchorage that likes Halloween know about Billy Stapleton’s house. Every year for Halloween, he turns it into a habitat of horrors, a castle of creepiness and a mansion of monsters. However this year, it’s simply just Billy’s house.

Of course, it’s the pandemic’s doing.

Stapleton usually goes all out. He doesn’t just put up some lights, inflatables and a skeleton or two. He creates games, displays, and all sorts of things with buttons to push and things to grab.

Billy Stapleton showing off a fan favorite, the electric chair. Still works perfectly.
Billy Stapleton showing off a fan favorite, the electric chair. Still works perfectly.(Taylor Clark)

It always draws a crowd. A big one as he described it. Last year, he said he got about a thousand trick or treaters. Businesses donated 400 pounds of candy to him. He said he didn’t have a single piece left over after Halloween.

In 2020, the only decoration he put up before Halloween was a tiny little skeleton on the mailbox and a chalk sign for counting down the days to Halloween.

Stapleton showing off a Halloween creation, Whack a Frankenstein. Meant for parents to operate...
Stapleton showing off a Halloween creation, Whack a Frankenstein. Meant for parents to operate while kids have at the tiny monsters.(Taylor Clark)

“I had a lot of mixed feelings," Stapleton said, "Do it. Don’t do it. I just want to be part of the solution with this pandemic. Not part of the problem.”

He said he really wrestled with the decision. On top of his own judgment, he said a number of friends advised him that this just isn’t the year to set up the house.

However, he said some people in the neighborhood thought differently.

“I’ve gotten a lot of people contacting me, emailing me, texting me, asking me, ‘Hey do you need help setting it up?' I said, ‘No, I’m not doing it this year.'"

Neighbors of Stapleton help put up the numerous decorations in 2017.
Neighbors of Stapleton help put up the numerous decorations in 2017.(Staff)

Stapleton said some people were wondering if he was going through something or if he was feeling okay. That’s how much it means to Stapleton and the people who make this Halloween stop. He was okay and was going through the same pandemic we all are.

Something that he’s not feeling good about regarding his decision is the cancelation of the charity he runs out of his yard on Halloween, Camp Crystal.

He collects can food, shoes, socks, blankets, and anything else that homeless youth might need. That aspect of his Halloween means a lot to him. He said he knows how they feel because he went through that experience himself.

“Anchorage really expects me to do this every year, and I kind of feel like I’m letting them down so it was a really hard decision to decide not to do it," he said.

In the end, safety was the call this year. That does not mean that he’s sitting Halloween out entirely.

Stapleton said he’s trying to figure out a fun way to safely give trick or treaters what they’re coming for. Right now, his top candy delivering ideas is to put it on a remote control car or to build a low PSI air cannon and shoot the candy across the yard in Ziplock bags.

Stapleton going through some of the Halloween decorations that aren't getting put up this year.
Stapleton going through some of the Halloween decorations that aren't getting put up this year.(Taylor Clark)

Just because Halloween isn’t happening at his house how it usually does, he doesn’t want everyone to cancel. Stapleton believes the key to a fun Halloween in 2020 is the same as getting through the pandemic — figuring it out together.

“That’s what Halloween is about, it’s a community thing. So I think if they can still get out there this year and just do a couple of door knocks and practice social distancing it doesn’t have to be canceled. It can be done," he said.

He also said the downtime has given him a lot of time to think of some new ideas for next year. So he hopes we’re not still dealing with this pandemic by then.

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