MATTOON -- A black carriage driven by a skeleton, a monstrous tree laden with jack-o-lanterns, and a horde of other creatures are awaiting trick-or-treaters at Stinson Avenue and 14th Street.
These creatures are part of the expansive display of inflatable and traditional Halloween decorations that retirees Richard and Madonna Evans set up every year on both street sides of their corner lot, 1400 Stinson Ave.
Richard Evans estimated that he set up 17 or 18 large decorations this year, including a giant black cat with a moving head, and has even more still in storage. He said he has to start working on this Halloween display in September to ensure he has enough time to get all the decorations and the power cords secured in place.
Madonna Evans said she likes all of their Halloween decorations, particularly the gargantuan white skull with spinning eyes. She said one of her favorite decorations this year is their new inflatable dragon because, "The wings flap back and forth."
In addition, Madonna Evans said they have a new inflatable arch over their front walk with streamers for trick-or-treaters to walk through. Visitors are greeted on the front porch by a talking jack-o-lantern that is hanging on the door.
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The couple also are known in the neighborhood for their display of inflatable and traditional Christmas decorations. Madonna Evans said they decorate for fun, not for prizes.
"We just enjoy Halloween and seeing the little kids," Madonna Evans said, estimating that 160 to 170 trick-or-treaters stopped by last year. She added that her grandchildren have helped with the Halloween decorations over the years.
The couple said they started putting up elaborate Halloween decorations, and Christmas decorations, 15 years ago while living on Ashby Drive in Charleston and continued this tradition when they moved three years ago to Stinson on the south side of Mattoon.
Richard Evans said he enjoys decorating for the holidays, particularly getting to use the wide variety of Halloween decorations that are available now on the market. He said he is always happy to see passing vehicles slow down so that the motorists can look over his decorations.
"We have had people knock on the door and thank us for doing the decorations," Madonna Evans said. She added that, "Grownups like the decorations just as well as the little kids do."