South Jefferson Has Halloween Tradition

(editors’ note: There has been so much interest in the Halloween houses on South Jefferson, since last week’s photos  appear in our  paper  we decided to check it out.)

Story and photons By Nicole Richardson

One of the yards on South Jefferson Street.

For the folks on South Jefferson, Halloween isn’t just a holiday…it’s a way of life this time of year. Located between St. Marie and St. Jacques, this street just south of  Old Town hosts the biggest and best decorations in the area.

What started over 30 years ago as a friendly, family “show down” has now turned into an enormous block party of sorts, featuring over 1500 trick or treaters each year. The event has become so big the street has to be shut down on Halloween night to deal with the amount of traffic it receives.

Spooky things hang in trees and found in the yards at is Diann Richardson/Alice Albers home on South Jefferson Street in Florissant.

It all started because the late Mary Ann Schein decided to have a “scare-off” with her relatives whom also lived on the street. “We used to put up some decorations and costumes and come to each other’s houses on Halloween to see if we got recognized. Fun family competition,” explained Schein’s cousin, Diann Richardson.

The competition snowballed when Schein’s daughters, Donna Maddock and Chris Brown, got involved. Next, Diann’s daughter, Cindy Richardson started in, and so on and so on. For the Maddocks, it began with two plastic grave markers and has since turned into an entire yard full of spooky delights. “It’s amazing,” said Maddock, “We have a line all the way down the street for trick or treaters.”

The prized possession for Richardson, is her coffin. “It’s a real coffin. I got it from an auction at the Knights of Columbus, had it delivered, and now my husband jokes I’ll be buried in it,” laughed Richardson. She believes it’d be too scary for kids to have someone pop out of it but a lot of kids come up and look inside. “The kids can go all over the lawn. Take pictures. It’s their night.”

In addition to the coffin “centerpiece,” are zombies, Carol Ann from Poltergeist, a scary witch’s table full of skulls, and various goblins and monsters strewn high through the branches of trees in the yard. The ghouls go up with ease from years of practice. Richardson’s husband throws metal tubing and a neighbor donated a cable caster-a device resembling a “fishing rod gun” which takes the line over the branches by hook.

Diann’s mother, Alice Albers, said in all her 96 years, she had never seen anything like it. “When I first saw it I thought they were all crazy to do this. It is a lot of work and then to have to put it all away; but the number of people who show up is fascinating,” said Albers.

Regardless of your age or whether or not you decorate for the seasons, it is easy to appreciate all that South Jefferson has to offer. What once started to entertain few families has evolved into something bigger than itself. “Halloween is the one holiday I really enjoy,” said Richardson, “Friends of my kids, now bring their own kids. It’s really a family affair.” And she couldn’t be prouder.

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