Third-generation Natickites Jess and TJ Dillen don’t scare easily. In fact, the only thing that can make the siblings tremble is rain around Halloween. The two have a sizable investment to protect in the form of over 100 zombies, skeletons, ghosts, and ax murderers that hang out on the front lawn of their 118 Pond Street home every year.
Apparently it’s a nightmare when the scream team of life-sized figurines gets wet. But not even rain will stop Jess and TJ from sharing their passion for Halloween with the community. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the two just bring their display of scary-but-sensitive souls inside, and then set it back up later for the enjoyment (or to the horror) of all.
TJ, a power company worker with a side gig as a picker, is constantly adding to the collection. What’s in the front yard on any given Halloween is only the tip of the iceberg. “We have so many there isn’t enough room in the front yard to put them all out,” he says. “We usually have gargoyles on the roof, but we just got the roof replaced. The roofers said don’t put anything up there because of the warranty.” Sorry, gargoyles. Maybe next year.
No matter, between Beetlejuice, the creepy conjoined twins, the scary clowns (you knew there had to be scary clowns)—and the smoke machine and projector show to lend atmosphere to the horrifying scene—you won’t even notice that pristine roof. Or the freshly mulched landscaping. Or the overall prettiness of the three-story home. The Addams Family mansion it isn’t. You’re at 118 Pond Street Manor, and they keep up appearances here.
TJ also keeps up an active search for all things hideous. He most recently bought a collection in New Hampshire from a former World Wrestling Foundation grappler. Everyone in the home clean-out and junk removal services field knows TJ will pay top dollar for the right piece to round out his collection of the macabre, the grisly, and the gruesome. The emails about blood and gore for sale don’t stop. (firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want to do business.)
The Natick High School grads seem to be something of an inspiration in the neighborhood. “A boy across the street buys stuff we sell at our yard sales and has his own display now. I don’t know if you noticed on the way here, but the whole street is decorated,” TJ points out.
“Over the past few years a lot more people on Pond Street have been getting into it. I think it’s great,” says Jess, a teacher in a childcare center.
About 1,000 trick-or-treaters each year agree. Jess and TJ aren’t sure what numbers to expect this year, but they’ll be ready. “We’re designing a candy chute,” Jess says. “Everything else is canceled. We didn’t want to cancel.”
The two put a lot of thought into how they would handle designing the display during a time of pandemic. They wear masks and keep socially distant on their jobs and in their everyday interactions. They decided there was no reason for their monsters to do the same. “We decided on no quarantine stuff,” Jess says. “Our display is about forgetting all that stuff and just having fun.”
“We love doing this,” TJ says. “We talk about it 9 months of the year. We take a little break from it after Halloween. But it’s a passion.”
“We like to give back to Natick, ” Jess says. “It’s just our way of doing that.”
The Natick Police Department is making touchless trick-or-treat chutes available for free to residents thanks to a donation from a resident and the Maine medical equipment company he works for.
The chutes come courtesy of Natick’s Dave Gill and the company he works for, REOS Medical.
Natick’s Health Department has issued guidelines on having a safe Halloween, citing Centers for Disease Control protocols.
According to the police, the cardboard chutes are 3 inches in diameter and 6-feet long, and come decorated with glow-in-the-dark tape and are packaged with tongs for socially distanced candy distribution.
They will be available for pick up at the Natick Police Department on Friday. Anyone interested can contact email@example.com.
Lt. Carla Rossi is also encouraging those you snag them to send photos of their decorated tubes at firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered to win a prize, possibly delivered via police car lit up and making noise.
Of course we’ve been prototyping our own fancy system since mid-September.
View this post on Instagram
Natick Recreation & Parks has packaged up all the candy for this weekend’s Trunk or Treat event. Have you registered yet?
WHEN: Saturday, October 31, noon – 2pm
WHERE: Natick High School at 15 West St, Natick, MA 01760
There are two ways to participate:
1) Decorate your car onsite at Natick High School, 15 West St., 11am-noon, dressed in your Halloween best. There will be prizes for the best-decorated cars.
2) Drive through and enjoy the decorations. Time-slots are limited to 20 vehicles per 15-minute slot, so pre-registration is required. Every child in each car will receive a pre-packaged bag of candy (or allergy friendly toy ).
***Spaces are limited so pre-registration is required for both parts. Registration is now open for BOTH decorating and drive-through spaces.
*Businesses are welcome to decorate a car, too. Contact Aaron at 508-647-6536 before registering if a business.
Volunteers needed to make this event a spooky success
While the fretting continues over how to handle Halloween during the pandemic, both in terms of doling out treats and actually trick-or-treating, the spirit of the holiday continues in these parts.
Store owners are dressing up their window displays.
And if you dare go across the town line into Wellesley, the Wellesley Mothers Forum has set up a scavenger hunt in the woodland trail off of Turner Road (off of Weston Road).
Here’s a handy scorecard to use as you seek ghosts, skeletons, and more.
On Halloween itself, Natick has organized an afternoon trunk-or-treat drive-through Halloween parade.