By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Though Halloween looked different in 2020, one community tradition remained the same: The Palisadian-Post’s Creep Your Crypt annual home decorating contest, where residents in all neighborhoods of the Palisades were invited to share their spookiest decorations for a chance to win one of three prizes.
After a nearly two-week voting period open to the community, the prize for Creepiest Crypt was awarded to the Peil family for their “Boolinger Cemetery” in Marquez Knolls.
“I would say that of all of the years, this was a really important one—especially for the kids,” Chuck Peil shared about decorating this year. “At the beginning of October, we had children come by regularly to ask if we were still going to do Halloween this year with all of the uncertainty.”
So in addition to going all out in decor, the Peils also fired up the experience every night for a few hours, including lights, music and fog machines. Chuck reported that they saw a steady stream of socially distanced visitors coming by to see the home.
He shared that he and his wife, Kimber, agreed early on to not spend any more money on this year’s decorations—an agreement that lasted about 24 hours.
“She called me and said she saw a Halloween decor sale on Nextdoor and was just going to swing by to check it out,” Chuck explained. “I couldn’t let her go without me, so we both went and ended up getting a bunch of really cool, life-size zombies and other decor. Come to find out the guy who was selling it was in the prop business.”
This is not the first time the Peils have taken home a prize: They were awarded Creepiest Crypt in 2016 and 2019, as well as Best Theme in 2018.
Setting up is a family affair. Chuck said that Kimber was instrumental in her addition of zombies and ghouls. Their teenagers, Kennedy and Holland, also assist.
“Kennedy, our youngest, designed a huge face, which we then made ourselves—big bloodshot eyes and a massive mouth that we made out of plywood—and this year we attached it to the trunk of a large tree out front, which, when lit correctly, looked super cool,” Chuck shared. “Holland, our oldest, had us add LED light strips on the edge of the house, which were synced to the music/sound effects, which was a great addition this year—this kind of topped everything off as it gave life to the experience.”
Chuck concluded by saying that community events like this are “more important than ever.”
“This year we personally experienced so much joy and so many heartfelt thank yous from families who appreciated having something for their kids to enjoy and escape with—even for a few minutes,” he shared.
Next up was the prize for DIY-Originality, which was awarded to the Perlstein family in the Highlands.
“We were so excited,” Denise Perlstein shared after finding out they won. “This made the kids’ Halloween!”
This was the Perlsteins’ first time entering the contest, making the win an extra-special achievement.
“This is our first Halloween in this home and especially given all that’s going on with COVID, we wanted to make it really special for our kids, Dylan (5) and Samantha (4),” Denise added.
She shared that some of the family’s favorite decorations used were a new Mickey and Minnie Mouse blowup vampire and witch.
“Our son, Dylan, loves dinosaurs, so we got our skeleton dinosaur last year,” Denise explained. “Then this year, my mom has been so disappointed that she can’t visit us during COVID, so she sent us the Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Olaf decorations. Then we have some decorations we have accumulated over the years.”
Denise said that the family had fun setting up the house together and that the kids also painted pumpkins.
The prize for Best Theme went to Heather Thomas, who lives in the Riviera. Thomas was also a first-time entry, marking a special win.
The Thomas home was decorated with an assortment of colorful lights that helped illuminate a collection of skeletons—some of which were hanging from the house and others set up along a fence around the property.
This year’s contest, sponsored by Fran Flanagan Group, featured prizes from a variety of local businesses, including K&M Center, Anawalt’s Palisades Hardware, CinqueTerre WEST, The Smoke Label, Roopa Rao Tutoring & Testing Center, The Draycott, Patrick’s Roadhouse, The ABCs of Yoga for Kids and Black Ink.
The next chance to win a bevy of prizes will be through this year’s holiday-time Deck Your Halls contest. Look for details in the start of December.
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