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Halloween horrors a tradition for Rotterdam man

Halloween horrors a tradition for Rotterdam man

Elaborate display draws children, adults
Halloween horrors a tradition for Rotterdam man
Josh Haber of Butler Street in Rotterdam positions an animatronic pumpkin king onto his front yard.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

The fearsome pumpkin king will shake his fiery orange head from side to side tonight, belching smoke and, in a deep, supernatural voice, warn people about their doom.

"Who's next ... for the fire?" he'll growl, as he stands tall on a Rotterdam front lawn.

About 30 jack-o'-lanterns in the grass will worship the phantom, some singing, some talking. Others will remain silent, their tongues slivers of yellow flame.

Off to the side, a smoke-breathing, wing-flapping dragon with purple eyes will challenge the children of the night. Skeletons will stand guard.

This is Halloween for Josh Haber.

"It's just kind of blown up in size and scope," said Haber, 43, who has been decorating at Halloween for the past 15 years -- the last three at his current home at 170 Butler St. in Rotterdam's Stonegate section.

Haber loves Halloween and loves horror movies. He's been setting up his display, which he calls "Mordrid's Lair," for the past several days and expects dozens of children and adults to tour his front and back yards as part of their Halloween festivities.

Hopefully, people can scare up some cash for the experience, as Haber picks a charity each year and donates proceeds from the display. This year's choice: the "Furballs" cat rescue operation.

On Monday night, cars were slowing down as they passed Haber's front yard -- kids watched out the windows for a sneak preview of the Halloween showcase. They might have been curious about the white, wispy "ghosts" floating behind the front windows of the house.

Photos: Scenes from 'Mordrid's Lair,' located on Butler Street in Rotterdam, Oct, 31, 2018

Haber thinks he has about 30 large pieces that make up the Halloween display, including a skull-faced, lantern-swinging grim reaper, a giant wolf monster, a howling, three-headed dog, an evil witch, giant skulls, an enormous plastic spider and dozens of tombstones. The backyard is outlined with orange lights to ensure kids do not wander into the center, where power cords have been placed for lighting effects.

Haber, who works at a home improvement store, said he purchased some of the display items at retail stores and found other treasures online.

He's not alone in his passion. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend a total of around $1.9 billion on Halloween decorations this year, with the average person spending just over $20.

"It's kind of addicting," Haber said. "You want to top yourself every year."


Haber could not estimate what he has spent on the holiday, but he sees it as an investment in keeping the tradition strong.

Haber remembers trick-or-treating in the old "Ben Cooper" Halloween costumes -- thin polyester outfits that were often covered with glitter and came with masks that covered, and quickly warmed, the face.

One year, Haber masqueraded as Boba Fett, the "Star Wars" bounty hunter. He remembers a Spider-Man costume and a Frankenstein's monster mask for other Halloweens.

Haber also knows some parents take their little witches and junior Ghostbusters to "trunk-or-treat" gatherings in large lots where the kids go car-to-car for their candies. Shopping malls also conduct Halloween celebrations.

On Butler Street, the lights will come on, and the frighteners will come out, at 6 p.m.

"It's family fun and it's for a good cause," Haber said. "Donations are appreciated but are not mandatory."

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

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