An effort to slow traffic becomes a Delaware Halloween tradition

Jim Bell just wanted cars to not blow through the stop sign in front of his Dover home, so he decorated his home with elaborate concoctions for Halloween, and the cars stopped. That was five years ago.

The traffic flying through the intersection was a problem every day, but even more so on Halloween, when trick-or-treaters were out and about. “That was the whole idea, was just to slow the people down coming through here. Now they do,” Bell said.

Now people stop just look at the decorations day and night. “Some people just ride by and [give a] thumbs up and ‘Ah, ooo.’ The kids come by and their whoopin’ and hollerin’, ‘cool, cool, cool.’ They like everything.”

Decorating the house was a win-win for Bell, who genuinely loves Halloween, his favorite holiday. Bell and his wife were even supposed to get married on Halloween, but it wasn’t to be. “We had to wait, so, it’s all good.”

It took about seven or eight days just to set it up, but truth be told, Bell wasn’t going to set up the house this year for various reasons until I called asking to come out and record it for WHYY’s First program, you can see that video above as well as pictures I took while visiting in the slideshow below.

It took a lot of wire for all the frames of the big figures. For the rest of the stuff, “A lot of it came from auctions, and dollar stores. High impact, low budget,” Bell said.

The biggest focal point of the whole setup is the giant robot rising up out of the yard. Bell used everything from plastic eggs, to “vacuum cleaner parts, funnels, toys and little bit of everything mixed in there.”

The robot is really cool, and creative, but Bell’s mom wasn’t impressed. “My mom thought it was stupid cause it was a deer feeder my buddy was throwing away.” Bell asked his friend if he could have it and knew he could do something with it. Throw in some dryer vents, toy parts, a light from a giant Christmas candle, some spray paint and you have something out of this world.

There really is no theme to the setup, “I just go with the flow of it.” He even envisions creating a ‘Frightland’ style setup, if he had the yard space. “Just takes a little bit of doing, I’m not afraid to do it.”

Bell also gets dressed up on Halloween to greet the kids as they come by. “When the kids come down and they go trick-or-treating and they’re smiling from ear to ear, it’s well worth it.”

But perhaps for Bell the thing that’s most important, and maybe the reason many of us big kids, myself included love Halloween is, “It’s fun, just to see them all smiling.”

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