Spooky house decorated to extreme

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, October 30, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Flying vampires, a cemetery with skulls, a blood fountain and spiderwebs galore – sounds like Halloween, doesn't it?
Most homes in Niles have some sort of Halloween decorations lining their yards, but one home in Fulkerson Park takes the spooky holiday to the extreme.
At the corner of Fulkerson and 13th streets, at the home of Matt and Carrie Burns, lies a haunted house that has been the talk of the town.
"Last weekend I would say we had around 100 people stop and walk through everything. On Halloween night, I would say probably around 500 people," Matt said.
What's so special about the decorations lining the yard? Take the glowing spiderwebs, for example, that connect from tree to tree and glow brightly with large spiders resting quietly among them.
Or how about the flying vampires and other scary figures, which really do fly through the air.
Not scared yet? Check out the mausoleum, which, well, one can figure that out for themselves.
To top it off, Matt, along with his wife and other family members and friends, dress up in costumes in hopes of scaring anyone who enters their premises.
"Our goal is not to scare the younger kids. We want them to be able to walk through this and see all of the decorations. We've had kids as young as 1 and 2 years old come through here just fine. But if we see a 13-, 14-year-old, it's game on," Matt said.
According to Matt's brother, Nathan Burns, the two have their parents and grandmother to blame for their interest in having extreme Halloween decorations.
"When we were younger, we would always get sick right before Halloween and weren't able to go trick-or-treating. Finally, after having this happen more than once, our parents decided to make things so we could enjoy the holiday," Nathan said.
He explained the family would set up scary games and decorations that would allow the boys to enjoy the holiday without leaving the home ill.
"I guess it just stuck with us because every year, we get bigger and add more decorations," Nathan said.
This is the first year the family set up the display at their Niles home. For the past three years, the Burns have lived in South Bend, Ind. and set up the displays for children in their neighborhood.
"Our yard over there was a lot smaller than it is here. But I am glad we have all this room because we can continue to grow," Matt said.
The Burns' grew up in the Brandywine area, so the neighborhood was very familiar.
"I've always liked this house. When I saw it was up for sale, I told my wife we had to have it," he said.
It seems everyone in the neighborhood is pleased to have them as neighbors.
"We've had so many people compliment us. They really enjoy that we do this because they haven't seen anything like it. Sure, you have the Niles Haunted House, but these decorations are set up in someone's yard and we do not charge anything for people who want to take a tour," Matt said.
Matt's wife, Carrie, said the men stay busy for about a month setting up all of the decorations.
"They really put a lot of time into this. They have to make sure all of the mechanical devices work and a lot of times they end up changing or moving things around, but it's worth the hard work," she said.
The Burns' will open their yard for one final time this year on Halloween night. They have been open every weekend during the month of October. They will not be open tonight.
"We'll start at 6 p.m. tomorrow night, when trick-or-treating starts and we will stay open until the last people leave," Matt said.
All agreed that the best time to come is after it gets dark.
"That's when you can really see all of the decorations," he added.
Another house in Niles keeps people coming back every year because of its Halloween decorations and is located at the corner of Regent and 15th streets.
No need to worry, the two aren't in competition.
"We're actually cousins," Matt said.