Archived Story

Halloween display delights again

Published 9:38am Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rhonda and Mark Allison show off their elaborate Halloween display of a ghostly pirate ship complete with animated pirates, music, lights and a reinforced deck that has been drawing the attention of many who pass by.
Rhonda and Mark Allison show off their elaborate Halloween display of a ghostly pirate ship complete with animated pirates, music, lights and a reinforced deck that has been drawing the attention of many who pass by.

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

Before Halloween was even over last year, Rhonda Allison had plans in mind for what kind of display she’d want in her yard next time.

But her plans, drawn out on a piece of paper at the time, came to life in a way she never expected.

In the front yard of their home on Third Street in Niles Township, Allison and her husband, Mark, have put together an elaborate Halloween display that is getting many passersby to slow down and even stop for a closer look.

It is an impressive, hardwood pirate ship complete with spooky sword-fighting shipmates, a skeletal captain, prisoners and swashbuckling, booze-guzzling characters.

“She had the idea for it last year,” said Mark, who went to work putting together the ship, building it out of old wood from their renovated basement and things like windshield wiper blades, solar panel rollers and PVC piping.

Mark also had his work cut out for him when it came to some of the electrical aspects – but he triumphed there as well.

The ship comes to life as the two sword-fighting skeletons move about on their own, activated by a motion sensor that – by pure chance – could be initiated when a car slows down on the shoulder of Third Street by the Allison house, which many do.

Mark admitted he wanted to build a ship twice the size of what’s in the Allison’s yard and had to scale down.

The construction actually began in the latter portion of September.

Since the finished product has been on display, the Allisons say they’ve had plenty of visitors.
“I have early trick or treats I’ve been passing out to the kids,” Rhonda said.

Visitors have included a group of seven children from Elkhart. “They just had a field day,” Rhonda said.  As pirate music plays from a shelf built inside the ship, there is just enough room for one to squeeze inside and the Allisons reinforced the deck, allowing kids to go inside and up along for a closer look.

Rhonda purchased all of her materials during the after Halloween sales last year and said that when she had a few pirate costumes and swords left over, she kept them on hand, letting children dress up and even have their picture taken on deck.

Even one California man in town last weekend for the Notre Dame game against the University of Southern California stopped by the Allison house to take pictures – and said he’d be back to see what the Allisons cook up for next year.

“It’s fun,” said Rhonda.  “We don’t even like to leave the house because we like to meet with people.”

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