Behind the curbside basketball hoop, a small skeleton’s cape blows gently in the wind on this sunny afternoon. The time of day and the quietness of this neighborhood street make the cemetery scene in the background seem almost casual.
The cemetery, and its inhabitants, comes to life at night, when each decoration lights up in a fantastic display of pumpkins, tombstones and spooky creatures. As far as pumpkins go, there’s a glowing 7-foot-by-7 foot one above the garage. In total, 10,000 light bulbs were used.
This Halloween house isn’t so much haunted. Think of it more like those houses rigged with wondrous light shows during the Christmas season.
Just like the Christmas versions, anyone is welcome to drive by Chris and Melody Noller’s house to celebrate the spooky season.
The couple always decorates for Halloween, but wanted to “go all out” this year, as normal festivities have been halted or downsized amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“A lot of people don’t want to go trick or treating this year,” Chris Noller said. “So we wanted to give people something to do, especially the little kids.”
For the first time, the Nollers built a show using timed lights coordinated to music. Stringing it together took three months, as they worked on getting the lights right at their kitchen table almost every night.
And for the first time, they sent a big invitation to the Colorado Springs community to watch the show. Chris Noller posted the details on a popular Facebook group for Colorado Springs residents on the first day of October. He included photos of their festive set-up and noted that the show would happen from 7 to 9 nightly throughout the month. Within an hour, the post had been liked 1,000 times.
“I didn’t think it was going to blow up like it did,” Chris Noller said. “We had no idea.”
The comments flowed in, too.
“This is amazing and so selfless.”
“Oh, this is just so awesome.”
So many people simply said, “Thank you.”
The turnout has been just as strong in person. About 20 minutes before 7 p.m., Melody Noller usually notices a line of cars outside. While the shine of the decorations dance around their yard and Halloween songs play from a speaker and car radios, she and her husband usually sit by the front window and watch the show and everyone who enjoys it.
“It’s just great to see somebody smile,” Chris Noller said. “Hopefully it gives people a sense of normality.”
The couple often talks about why their show is so popular.
“I think it’s because of COVID,” Chris Noller said. “There’s just not much else to do.”
He, for one, doesn’t get tired of the nightly routine.
“We’re Halloween people,” Chris says.
That’s easy to see. Outside, there’s the welcome mat reading, “BOO!” Inside, there’s the themed stickers all over the kitchen cabinets. Melody started decorating in mid-September.
Halloween traditions are important to the mom of six kids, ages 8 to 21. The parents always dress up like zombies or clowns. They always have a family dance party to “Thriller.” And they always deck out their yard.
“With us having so many kids, we’ve always been into the holidays,” Melody said. “Those are the memories our kids have. We always just dove in full force, just because they’re only kids for so long.”
Alongside tombstones and creepy faces coming out of the ground, there’s one non-Halloween decoration that sticks out in the yard: a sign congratulating the newest second-degree black belt holder in the family.
It points to another love for the Nollers: martial arts.
Chris and Melody run Springs ATA, the local franchise of the American Taekwondo Association. This year, as they have for the last two years, they’ll build a haunted house for students and families and the public to walk through.
“We always are looking for ways to give back,” Chris Noller said.
And that’s not limited to Halloween. Everyone is welcomed back in December to see their house decorated for Christmas.