Pair going to great lengths for Halloween display

The residence at 137 West Third St. in Oil City will be getting decked out for Halloween. (By Stacey Gross)

“Work with what you’ve got” is the motto D.J. Kuziak and Scott Kennedy have used to start what they hope will become a biennial event.

Kuziak and Kennedy have been working on a front yard Halloween display that will take a new theme each year. Kennedy said they hope to work one year and then produce a new display the following year.

“One year to paint and get it all ready. The next year to put it up,” Kennedy said.

They’ll need a year between, Kennedy said, because the other motto they decorate by is “go big or go home.”

The two put up a display last year, but they kept it simple, said Kennedy. This year, he said, they want to use the holiday as a way to create excitement while people continue to contend with the complications of a global pandemic.

This year, they have a five-piece display at 137 West Third St. in Oil City that revolves around “Oil City Oddities.” Up already are the two-headed mystic, the strongman, the sword swallower, the bearded lady, and the mermaid — in skeletal form.

But the display will grow throughout the coming weeks, said both Kuziak and Kennedy, including new elements being added the night of Halloween.

“We want it to feel like a carnival out here, for the kids and the adults.” said Kennedy. That’s because for them, “Halloween is our Christmas,” he added.

“If you’re walking your dog, I want you to see something new every time you walk by here,” said Kuziak, who is the “technical” part of the team.

Having spent time with Meadville’s Academy Theatre, Kuziak brings Kennedy’s ideas to life.

“I’m the visual,” Kennedy said.

Many of the items included in Kuziak and Kennedy’s display are homemade, including the mermaid’s tub, the sign and the “wheel of death.”

This isn’t just store-bought decorations displayed with no soul, Kuziak said. Already, he’s in the hole for at least 75 zip ties and countless screws.

“It’s about creativity,” said Kuziak.

Many of the clothes on the characters are homemade and, along with the jewelry and other accoutrements, come from thrift stores.

One day, said Kennedy, “I see smoke, I see lights.”

But, he said, the goal is one day to replace the props with live actors, and be the house to beat for Halloween, from the decor to the treats.

This year, said Kuziak, they’ll be handing out balloons, glowsticks, and candy. And, Kennedy said, the best part of the display is a surprise, but worth checking out a few times or more, as — like the display itself — the experience will change with time.

As for the neighbors on West Third Street, Kennedy and Kuziak said all the feedback has been positive except for one small issue over a clown that seems to move around the yard at night, turning up in new locations every morning like a haunted Elf on the Shelf.

Whether the balloons being handed out Halloween night will be exclusively red remains to be seen.