When you turn onto Regency Circle in Magnolia, Arkansas, and drive slowly around a curve, your eyes dart left and right and you may begin to quiver.
A rusted old truck with internal strobe lights flashing looks like it is driven by the infamous Michael Myers of the “Halloween” movies. Standing not too far from the truck, Pennywise, from Stephen King’s books and movies “It,” grips his red balloon. Those who know the grisly clown likes to take in victims in the sewer drain will notice a blue light illuminating the dark way down.
For the past 10 years, Matt Bane has gone what he calls “extreme” with his three-sided lawn on #9 Regency Circle drawing the interest of the community throughout October, and especially on Halloween night when treats are given away.
A Family Tradition
Bane said he began decorating for Halloween in such a big way after growing up with his parents, Marie and Tinker Bane, who decorated all of Bane’s childhood. Nowadays, his parents who live across the street help him hand out entire Hershey bars the night of Halloween. Bane can get an idea of how many people come by judging by the number of candy bars given out.
“Last year we had about 700 or 800 candy bars and when we ran out, we gave out regular candy,” he said.
Kids Love It
But not everyone waits until Halloween to take part in the fun at the yard covered in orange and purple lights with a projector showing hands trying to get out of the window like zombies. Vanessa Sneed who lives on nearby Fox Run said she takes her daughter, Melyna Sneed, 2, there for a walk almost every night. Wrapped up in a tiny pink coat, Melyna took all the creatures in the yard in and looked at the cemetery, which was on her eye level, for several moments before continuing her walk.
“She loves it,” Vanessa said. “She’s not scared.”
Each year Bane adds new elements to his display depending on what he can find in stores or sometimes what friends donate to him. This year, the largest addition is a 12-foot skeleton who reigns over the yard near the cemetery lit up by jack-o-lanterns and even a Beetlejuice grave illuminated with a white arrow pointing to the shady ghost’s grave.
With all the lighted displays, two outdoor projectors for family-friendly Halloween movies, and the blow-up elements in the yard, it takes about 15 minutes to turn everything on each night. Bane and his girlfriend, Kodi Rabb, began putting up the massive display the last week of September so it to would be ready for October viewing.
Rabb said she knows her children Coi, 3, and Oaklie, 5, enjoy the display as well as Bane’s children, Jagger, 4, and Chris, 9.
“Oh, they love it, and they love seeing everyone come by,” Rabb said. “We do this to make all the kids happy.”
Smoke machines are other elements that add to the creepiness of the yard, lingering over the cemetery. Other familiar blow-ups are from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” including Oogie Boogie, Jack Skellington, and Zero, the dog.
Out of a precaution due to COVID-19, this year’s display is not as decked out in decorations as in year’s past. Candy will be given away at the end of the driveway. Bane said he has talked to city officials and they would be putting up signs for cars to travel one way through the display.
Halloween will be the big night for the display of course, but some residents couldn’t help but come and get an up-close look before then. Todd Bergeron took his two children up to the yellow do-not cross tape to take a peek into the yard.
“We saw this on Facebook and wanted to come over,” Bergeron said. “They love it!”
If you’re unable to make it out to see his decorations for Halloween, Bane is known to go all out when decorating for Christmas too, so keep your eyes peeled.
Becky Bell is an award-winning newspaper writer who has worked at numerous newspapers including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Texarkana Gazette. Prior to becoming a freelance journalist, Becky worked in the Communications Department at Southern Arkansas University and served as University Editor. While working there, she also received a Master’s in public administration.
She is a dog lover and lives with her dog, Queenie Belle, a rescue Papillon-mix, in Magnolia, Arkansas. In her spare time, she volunteers for the Stew Pot at the United Methodist Church and attends Trinity Baptist Church. She also serves on the board of Compassion's Foundation Inc., which helps victims of domestic violence. She was born in Texarkana, Texas, and attended Texas High School where she first started writing stories for the Tiger Times.