I grew up a couple miles up a dirt road in VT... as a kid we always had a neat setup at my parents house, we had a ton of aged netting that was originally used to cover some sort of fruit trees to keep the birds off.. we would staple it all over the front of the house, drape it over the shrubs and chairs and light it up with some 48" blacklights. We had a strobe and some other colored lights and would come up with a couple of creepy props... The last Halloween I spent at home we had the best setup ever.. we had borrowed a friend's remote light controller and I was standing up on the roof ready to give them a show... I think we wound up with about 4 sets of tots... it was horribly dissappointing. Most of little kids on our street grew up and everyone had grown up and moved away or was "too old" to go tot'ing.
There were a couple of other people in town who put some effort into the evening as well. I specifically remember 3 different houses. One guy had a castle facade on the front of his garage and inside he was a mad scientist standing at a table with bubbling bottles and such. Another guy was known as "the pumpkin man" as he and his wife would spend all week carving pumpkins and on halloween night he would have what I would guess was 50-80 of them all over his yard. The last were some folks who dressed up and stood out in the front yard, they usually had a bonefire, a large cauldron and some other things.
The efforts my family made for the holiday and the memories I have of the others who tried to make the evening special is why I decided to do our yard haunt... I wanted to be "the halloween guy" of the neighborhood and make the same impression upon the young tot's as others had made on me. As of '05, we pretty much achieved that status as a household. My wife Kellie was talking with someone while picking the kids up from daycare and when it came to talking about where we live, she said "oooh, I know where you live! You're the people with all teh volkswagens and the halloween stuff!" plus, it's just plain fun. From planning the haunt, building the props, shopping for new tidbits and showing the tot's a night of their life.. it's all good stuff.
Here are the halloween pics I have from when we were little... first shot, I'm a skeleton. I had a bamboo windchime pinned to my back and as I walked I sounded like a buncha bones rattling. My brother was a pirate and my sister was a witch. Second one, I'm the wizard., brother is the beaver, sister is the witch, neighbor was a witch, other neighbor was a gypsy. Fourth one, I'm the terminator.. brother was a qizard and sister was a ghost. Last one... my last time trick-or-treating, I was 16... made the flower costume (hippy phase... growing long hair, had a vw bug... the flower was fitting, and comical to boot) out of cardboard and painted it with little kid finger paint. I drove my sister (the witch) and our neighbor (the clown... same girl that was a witch in the previous picture) and we were told many times we were too old to be out trick-or-treating.