With much of the world still in the midst of a pandemic, and the fate of trick-or-treating unknown, some Santa Clarita Valley residents, who have traditionally gone all out for Halloween have come to realize it’s more important than ever to decorate this year.
“We thought this year with a lot of people not decorating and there being no Halloween really, it’s kind of important to continue decorating,” Sandy Mine said.
Mine and her twin sister, Sonia Weeks, have lived in the SCV for nearly 30 years, and for about half of that, they’ve decorated Weeks’ Canyon Country home annually for both Halloween and Christmas.
“This year, I was not going to decorate, but my girls said they need something normal … one happy thing that takes you away from what’s going on,” Weeks added.
Similarly, Valencia resident Sheri Baker was hesitant, as she wasn’t sure how this year would go, but decided to go for it, continuing to provide the community with a bit of Halloween magic.
How it all began
“Growing up, Halloween was always my grandmother’s favorite holiday, so when we were kids, she’d always dress up, and she’d answer the door as a werewolf or something and scare kids,” Baker said. “It just became one of those holidays that was just fun.”
As time went on, Baker got married and had kids of her own, so she picked up the family tradition once more.
“I started out with small decorations, and I would sit (and) make cutouts of pumpkins or witches (out of wood),” she said. “As the kids got bigger, they were able to participate more after school, and all the neighborhood kids and my kids would come over and paint them.”
Baker’s daughter Kate remembers her mom letting her and her two sisters paint the decor however they wanted.
“As little kids, it was the funniest thing to be able to just let your creativity go wild,” Kate said. “She never was like, ‘No, do it this way or do it that way.’ She always said, ‘Just use your imagination, and make it however you want it to look.’”
Each year, all the kids in the neighborhood would look forward to Halloween because they’d all go to the Baker’s house to make their decorations.
“It was always cute because the girls would take their time, and they’d make it perfect, and the boys just could not make enough of them. They’d just throw some orange paint on a pumpkin and go, ‘Ok, Ms. Baker, I need another one,’” Baker said, chuckling. “It was always very fun.”
Then, Baker would stake each of the decorations and put them all over the front yard, so everyone could see their creations.
“Now she’s got dozens of scary (characters) that she’s been making over the years that she puts out,” Kate added. “To this day, you can still see decorations that my friends, my sisters and I made as kids, along with new pieces every year.”
What Baker didn’t realize at the time was that years later, when those kids who would come make their decorations grew up, would bring their own kids back to the house each Halloweeen.
“I heard lots of stories from lots of parents saying, ‘I came here as a kid, and now we come every year and take pictures with all your stuff,’” Baker said. “So that’s why I keep it up, and I love doing it. It’s so much fun and super exciting.”
Similarly, twins Mine and Weeks have themed each year since they began putting up their decor around 15 years ago for the kids, making every year different.
“My sister Sandra has a lot of get-togethers. She does Christmas, she does every holiday, and I don’t do anything at my house,” Weeks said. “The only thing I do is a Halloween party once a year — that’s the only holiday I have — so I figured, ‘Well, if I’m gonna do it, I may as well go all out.’”
And they do, decorating not only the front yard, but the garage, backyard and every inch of the house, even the bathroom.
“On the actual day of Halloween, people come through the house, through the backyard and out the front,” Mine said. “It’s the talk of the neighborhood.”
“It’s kind of like a haunted house, but never too scary for young kids,” Weeks added. “The houses are very close together (in my neighborhood), so it’s a really nice community, and they really appreciate it.”
In years past, the sisters have had anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 people pass through their home, keeping track
“We know because we buy the full-sized candy bars at Costco, so we keep track of the boxes,” Mine said.
“We hire local kids to help us monitor the situation, make sure everybody stands in line, make sure everybody comes through once, make sure everybody behaves,” Weeks added, “and you know what? They always have. … They’re very respectful. … I’ve never had a bad experience.”
Usually, they start decorating in August, but this year, they only decorated the front yard, though still concerned it’d send the wrong message to trick-or-treaters.
“One of my daughters is a really good artist, and she’s going to write a really nice sign saying, ‘No treats this year, but we look forward to next year. Enjoy the display,’” Weeks said.
Even so, neighbors have already been thanking them for decorating this year.
“She actually had sheriff’s (deputies) come over and knock on her door and thank her for decorating,” Mine said.
“It scared us,” Weeks added, chuckling. “It was nice, especially with what’s going on now, that they took the time.
“We work in the legal field so this is our fun, but I think it’s nice for the community,” Weeks explained. “If it makes them smile, even for one day, it’s worth it.”
The Weeks’ decorated home is located on the 19900 block of Terri Drive in Canyon Country, while the Baker’s home is located on the 25600 block of Velan Drive in Valencia.