Spryfield couple brings the community together on Halloween

Hundreds of trick-or-treaters help raise money for Manna For Health

In August, when some people are at the beach slathering on sunscreen, Jacob Rafuse and Steven MacLeod begin to dig out their Halloween decorations.

The months of work lead up to what’s become an annual tradition for the goblins and ghouls in their Spryfield neighbourhood. Hundreds of trick-or-treaters flooded Theakston Avenue on Thursday.

Every inch of Rafuse and MacLeod’s yard was decorated with flashing green, purple and red lights, as well as gravestones, pumpkins, talking witches and spiders. Most of these decorations are handmade by MacLeod. Sometimes they take weeks to complete and nearly four days to set up.

Halloween decorations and lights on Thursday.   Lucy Harnish

At the couple’s home, children not only collect candy but also give back.

“We’re exhausted but we’re really excited that we did better than we thought considering the weather was really bad,” said Rafuse.

It all started eight years ago when the pair decorated their doorstep with 25 pumpkins. Rafuse said they attracted about 100 trick-or-treaters. The event has grown since then. One year there were around 700 visitors. This year they say they received 850.

For the past two years the pair have accepted donations for the Children’s Wish Foundation. Last year, Rafuse and MacLeod collected $1,500 for the foundation. This year, however, the couple decided to support a local charity.

“Help what’s around you first,” MacLeod said Wednesday, taking a break from setting up decorations before the event.

They chose Manna For Health, a food program for people living with HIV-AIDS and other life threatening illnesses. They say they raised just under $900 this year.

Mary Beth and Matthew Wall visit Rafuse and MacLeod’s property for Matthew’s first trick-or-treating experience.   Lucy Harnish

Angela Pepperdene lives next door to Rafuse and MacLeod. She has helped them carve pumpkins the night before Halloween for four years.

“It means so much to the community, especially now that they’re using a local charity,” she said. “I’ve been here for 11 years, and the amount of kids has just skyrocketed since they started their crazy, scary house.”

Rafuse and MacLeod enjoy going all out for Halloween. The event has become so popular that the city blocks the street off from drivers. The couple spends hours creating gory costumes for themselves.

“We have kids that come back year after year. It’s kind of neat to see them go from that tiny costume to now they’re like looking you in the eye,” said Rafuse.

Rafuse said people tell him they can’t believe the couple does this every year when they do not have children of their own. Before he can finish, MacLeod interjects. “Yeah, we do,” he said. “We have 700 of them.”

Morgan and Ella Harrietha pose for a photo in front of Halloween decorations.   Lucy Harnish

For Rafuse, the annual tradition teaches everyone a valuable lesson — including the parents.

“I think they’re teaching their kids about what it’s like to help other people,” said Rafuse. “It’s started to become more of that community-based event that we wanted it to be.”

The pair may be tired out from this year’s celebration, but Rafuse admits they will begin the preliminary planning for next Halloween after Christmas. Then, at the end of the summer, the pair will start unpacking old decorations and MacLeod will begin creating new ones.

Lucy Harnish

Lucy Harnish

Lucy is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She hails from Mill Cove, Nova Scotia. Her interest in Russian literature led her to St. Petersburg for a year of language education.

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