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Huge, elaborate Halloween displays raise money for St. Jude and research for childhood cancer

Halloween display
Posted at 8:31 AM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 17:33:01-04

If neighborhood Halloween displays seem bigger and scarier this year, that’s because they are.

Halloween spending is expected to top $10 billion in the US for 2021, the highest total ever. A lot of it’s going toward spiders, ghosts, and skeletons for the front yard. There are also homes across America that are grabbing attention for a deeper, more important purpose.

“I love Halloween,” said Jennifer Corcoran with a smile, standing in front of her hugely elaborate outdoor display in Nashville.

A connoisseur of all things jaw-dropping, Corcoran wears her title as a badge of honor: Halloween Queen.

“I have a mug that says that,” she laughed. “I’m gonna go big or go home. We have the rooftop skeletons, 12-foot skeletons, talking skeletons, the hitchhiking ghosts. Haunted Mansion is my absolute favorite.”

That doesn’t even begin to cover the skeleton squirrel, gargoyles, and the grave of Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetle...well, you know the rest.

“I love this place,” said a little boy in a car seat.

His mother pulled the car over so he could see the display. They do this on most days of the Halloween season.

“I love Jack!” he said, motioning to the yard’s tall Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The way Corcoran sees it, this is a little joy she can bring. Who knows what the people driving by have dealt with in this time of the pandemic. Corcoran’s faced something very difficult in this time, too.

“My cousin Fred Santoro died of cancer last August,” she said. “Because of the travel restrictions, I wasn’t able to go to the funeral.”

Like for many people, the pandemic made grieving the loss of a loved one harder for Corcoran. In the midst of all these Halloween things that catch attention in her yard, Corcoran’s just added something. It’s a QR code you can scan and donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, treating childhood cancers.

“This was a cause Fred believed in, so I’m raising money in memory of him,” she said.

Corcoran is part of a team that’s launched Skeletons for St. Jude, a group that has now grown to more than 200 homes across the country, raising money with their Halloween displays. Together, they’ve brought in more than $30,000 so far.

For Corcoran, being Halloween Queen is so much more than just decorating a yard. It’s a new tradition, something to enjoy in what can be a hard time, and part of a legacy for someone she loves.

“We have more and more people getting on board every day,” she said. “I’d love to hit $100,000 and do it again next year and make it even bigger. The sky is the limit.”

To get involved, visit the Skeletons for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital group on Facebook.