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Spooky lights, delights
Some take Halloween displays to extreme
Halloween Town 1 es
From left, Roger Okuno, his daughter, Erin Okuno, and her boyfriend, Dan Nelson, kneel in the middle of the Okunos’ festive front yard in west Forsyth. - photo by Emily Saunders

Ever wonder what drives families to take Halloween decorating to the extreme?

Ask the Okuno family over in west Forsyth. Or the Young family on the county's south end. They'll both tell you the same thing, more or less.

"It's an addiction," said Shelly Young, whose Arden Greens lawn features zombies and skeletons bursting from under ground and at least a dozen scattered inflatable ghouls.

"It started small four years ago, but each year we've added more and more."

And more and more people will be out looking at the decorations this week, especially with Halloween falling on a Friday.

"People come from all over to see it," Young said. "Cars line up every night. Word of mouth just gets out ... we love to do this. The kids love it the most."

The Young kids include: Shellby, 10; Bo, 8; Anna Pearl, 4; and newborn Lyla Faith.
Roger Okuno agrees.

"It's all about the kids," said the Rutledge Lane resident. "People come here Halloween night with van loads of kids and just dump them in the front yard, and they run around and have a blast."

For Okuno and his wife, Karen, it's a family affair. Dughter Erin, 22, and son Wade, 20, also get involved in prepping the front yard for Halloween.

"They're into it big time," Okuno said, adding that every year the countless coffins, spiders and corpses seem to multiply.

"We just keep adding on to all this. Once you get going with this stuff, it's easy to say, 'What else could I put out here?'"

Okuno's neighbor, Bobbie Barber said the overdecorating disease is "infectious."

"He drags us all into the spirit of this," said Barber who lives across the street.

"If you'll notice in our neighborhood, you'll see people who have just peppered their property with decorations at the houses around his," Barber said. "But his house is the hub, the nucleus of our neighborhood as far as decorating goes."

Over the past 10 years, the Okuno family's fascination with decorations has grown to the point of stretching more than 60 extension cords across the lawn and running up the monthly power bill an extra $50 a month.

The Young family would agree that the festive pursuit can be costly.

"This year alone we've probably added $700 worth of decorations to the yard," Shelly Young said. "Some of this stuff doesn't come cheap."

While many of Okuno's decorations have indeed put him back a few dollars, he and his wife have cut costs by building many of the headstones and even a guillotine.

"I do the cutting, and she does the painting," Okuno said, pointing to a headstone with lyrics from a John Fogerty song. "There's a lot of rock and roll stuff here too."

Barber calls Okuno an "artiste macabre."

"Their front yard is like a Halloween-themed Disney World," Barber said. "All the kids in the neighborhood just love it. He gets the biggest kick out of seeing the kids have fun.

"And he does it for Christmas too," Barber said. "It's just hysterical, because we can't figure out where he stores all that stuff."

The Youngs built a special loft in the garage to hold their December decorations. A large, unfinished closet in the basement brims with Halloween gear.

"Wait till people see this place in December," Shelly Young said. "We really go all out for Christmas."