Bradford Powell admits his yard sticks out in the neighborhood in an odd way and he credits — or blames — his wife.
For 12 years, Hailey Branyon Powell of Davidson has dedicated herself to finding bigger and better ways to scare their neighbors on Halloween. Lately, this includes stage lighting, recorded humming noises, smoke machines and motorized witches and gravediggers. On some nights, there are people dressed as monsters in the yard, just to spice things up.
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It’s not usual to see up to 200 people a night standing in front of the home at 10035 Alabaster Drive in Davidson.
“I like Halloween, but she takes it to a whole different level,” he says. “If it was up to her, she would make Halloween everyday of the year... She starts earlier and earlier each year... So while people go to the pool and hangout in the neighborhood, she makes time to work on her Halloween in the hot dirty garage.”
As for what the neighbors think: “I’m not sure everyone understands the level she takes it to,” he says.
Neighbor Amanda Brierley says the yard is “more of an experience than just a display.”
“Some of the best reactions are probably from the children,” she says. “My daughter, Summer, looks forward to seeing the fog come from Hailey’s house every night... I don’t even know how she comes up with some of the ideas she has.”
Brierley is amazed that all the work is from scratch, by a neighbor who has no background in engineering, mechanics or carpentry.
Hailey Branyon Powell is a hair stylist.
When she started decorating her yard 12 years ago, she didn’t even have kids. Now, she has an 11-year-old son who is close to aging out of trick-or-treating.
“My husband does not help, but he will come outside when I’m in the middle of building something and tell me it looks good,” she says. “I have no expectations from him. We laugh about it. He’s into sports and I’m huge into Halloween. I was like this before I knew him.”
She doesn’t have a clear explanation of why she goes all out decorating for Halloween and not for Christmas. However, Powell says her mother and father died four years ago within six weeks of each other, and she needed something to occupy her mind at the time. That’s when she started taking things to the next level.
This year, she added a 20-foot-high by 20-foot-wide abandoned church facade. However, it proved too big, so she cut it to 12-feet-high. Anything scary idea is fair game, she says, except for gory images found in real life. No blood, guts or bodies hanging from trees.
The decorations go up Oct. 1 and come down Nov. 1. She recently started putting out a coffin to collect donated goods for the Cabarrus County Humane Society.
“I do worry sometimes that I’m driving the neighbors nuts, so I turn it all off by 9:30 p.m,” Powell says. “I really enjoy seeing whole families come by, including people from out of town. I’ll see 20 people out there, taking pictures in front of the displays. That’s fuels me.”