Couple dresses up home in spirit of Halloween

October 31, 1997


Staff Writer

HALFWAY - The first child who attempted to approach Anita and John Bussard's home for trick-or-treats Thursday evening never made it close to the candy basket.

That's because he first encountered the shrieking sound effects, eerie tombstones, skulls and the rest of the ghoulish scene the Bussards put together to "greet" the kids.

Then there were the Bussards themselves - she dressed in a witch's costume, her face coated with green makeup, and he in a hairy monster suit with flashing red lights for eyes.


The boy ran away.

"Sometimes we can't give away the candy because the kids won't come up that far," said Anita Bussard, 41, who works as a Maryland State Police dispatcher when she isn't playing the role of witch at her Gay Street home.

"They go berserk. They scream, holler and run," said John Bussard, 39, a heavy-equipment operator.

Anita Bussard said she grew up making a big deal out of Halloween and hasn't stopped since. She has been turning her house into a Halloween landmark of lights, sounds and frights for seven of the past 10 years, missing only those years when she could not get off work.

The display varies from year to year, but it has its staples - scary noises, a pot brewing with dry ice and ripped bed sheets covered with fake blood. It took the couple 4 1/2 hours Thursday afternoon to assemble the display.

The Bussards, who give Halloween gifts to each other, also spent two weekends decorating the inside of their home with even more lights, decorations and strange gadgets such as a battery-powered spider.

When asked how much she spent on Halloween decorations over the years, she said, "I don't even want to think about it."

So why do they do it?

"It's fun and it's entertainment for the kids," Anita Bussard said.

She admitted the display draws some curious looks, but said most neighbors enjoy the scene. Some come over to take pictures or to offer their compliments on the elaborate display.

"It's great. They really get into it," said neighbor Leslie Farris.

But some adults aren't so complimentary, Anita Bussard said. She said she has been told her celebration of Halloween is satanic, something she flatly denies.

"The parents that don't know anything take all of the fun away from the kids," she said.

But there were enough children who came and made it through the ghoulish gantlet to exhaust the $80 worth of candy the Bussards purchased.

The evening's highlight: Anita Bussard told witch stories to children who filled the front yard.

"I think we have as much fun as the kids do," John Bussard said.

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