Charlotte couple goes all out for scarey Halloween
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Friday, Oct. 25, 2013

Charlotte couple goes all out for scarey Halloween

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/24/15/58/1rtUyA.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - COURTESY OF MICHELLE CASHIN
    Michelle and Colin Cashin enjoy dressing up both their house and themselves for Halloween each year.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/24/15/58/924zV.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - KATYA LEZIN
    Michelle and Colin Cashin flank one of the many talking and moving animatronic dummies in their Halloween-themed house, holding their two Jack Russell terriers who also don costumes each year.

Michelle Cashin, 42, loves to go antique shopping, keeping an eye out for something different.

She hunts for a coffee table that can double as a coffin or a chair that would be the perfect backdrop for a mummy or corpse.

“I have always loved Halloween,” Cashin said.

Her 3,600-square-foot Waxhaw house is transformed into a haunted extravaganza. The rooms, hallways, and the garage, front yard and walkway are festooned with hundreds of Halloween decorations and artifacts, all designed to not only celebrate Cashin’s favorite holiday, but also to spook and scare visitors.

“I love to scare people,” said Cashin, a certified personal trainer/fitness instructor. “I also love being scared.”

She enlists the help of her husband, Colin, and friends to dress up and add elements of surprise and suspense to the festivities at her house. They hide under a table or bed or pretend they are one of the dummies sitting in a chair, only to pop out and add to the terror.

“One year, when the kids were little, we did a scavenger hunt in the woods,” Colin said. “All of the dads hid behind trees and gravestones and jumped out and scared the kids’ pants off.”

Interspersed with the gravestones, spider webs and spooky lights are at least 20 animatronic dummies, like the Grim Reaper and Linda Blair from “The Exorcist,” more than a dozen skeletons, 60 spiders of all shapes and sizes, 20 ghosts, five globes that speak and light up, three zombies, five black cats, several dozen jack-O’-lanterns, and lots of fake blood. There is also an enormous coffin that doubles as a cooler for drinks and every kind of Halloween-themed plate, cup and knickknack you can imagine.

The Cashins also collect costumes (they own more than 100) and dress up for each of the many Halloween-themed parties they hold each year, including one for their children, Kacey, 15, and Conor, 14, both students at Marvin Ridge High School.

“I couldn’t wait to have kids,” Michelle said, “because it let me start trick-or-treating and decorating my house.”

Even now that her children have outgrown her Halloween enthusiasm, her decorations and devotion to her favorite holiday escalate each year. Colin, a senior corporate accounts manager for a medical device company who has an art degree, helps stage the house.

“I figured if you can’t beat them, “ he said, “join them.”

Michelle collects new Halloween-themed items throughout the year, purchasing most in the days after Halloween when the prices are reduced. She begins setting up each September and then spends the weeks following Halloween putting it all painstakingly away, filling an entire attic and every bit of storage space in the family’s garage.

All of the effort is worth it to Michelle.

“I love it all,” she said. “It makes me feel like a kid again, and it brings back such happy memories.”

Katya Lezin is a freelance writer. Do you have a story idea for Katya? Email her at bowserwoof@mindspring.com.

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