- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2005

In the District’s neatly kept Capitol Hill neighborhood, Kit and David Peterson’s run-down, scary looking home is no longer an oddity — at least not this time of year.

The Petersons are just one of many families in the District and elsewhere who are making Halloween the new holiday to decorate homes.

“This year’s theme is rats,” said Kit Peterson, 40, a Library of Congress employee. “We are going to have rats covering everything.”

The Halloween industry is expected to do $6.9 billion in sales this season, including $750 million in home decorations, Chris Riddle, a Halloween specialist with Ohio-based American Greeting Cards said yesterday.

“There are just two holidays in which you see people decorating — Christmas and now Halloween,” he said. “Halloween is that holiday that people remember when they were kids. It brings them back to their youth.”

Mr. Peterson, 39, said he likes the free-spirited nature of Halloween, compared to the routine of Christmas.

“It is not like one of these things that you sort of have to do,” said Mr. Peterson, a freelance photographer. “People just do it because it’s self-expression.”

Mrs. Peterson said that upon moving into theirhome in the 500 block of Fourth Street in Southeast they knew it was a “natural Halloween kind of house.”

“We thought this was perfect for Halloween decorations,” she said. “That’s how we got started.”

The Petersons make Halloween decorating a family and neighborhood affair.Neighborhood children helped to dig the graves this year, followed by daughter Arrington, 6, and Stella, 4, helping their parents put the finishing touches on the project.

The Petersons take the decorating seriously. They won a neighborhood contest so many times that they must now give others an opportunity.

Several blocks away, a row of skull lanterns line the garden in front of Dave and Kim Berry’s F Street town house in Southeast.

A large plastic alien stands near the doorway and a glowing purple spider dangles from the roof.

The Berrys, who have a 3-year-old daughter named India, also decorate the inside of their home, which will be on display tomorrow during their annual toddler Halloween party.

“Decorating brings back memories of my childhood,” said Mr. Berry, 41, who works as an attorney for the government. “And for my daughter, it’s helping her form memories.”

Mr. Berry said his family enjoys collecting odd little things and getting something new every year.

“This year we got this wind-up skeleton and this bobble-head ghost,” he said. “Next year, who knows.”

Francis Campbell, an advisory neighborhood commissioner, said the actors, the cave, the homemade coffin and other decorations at his home in the 1800 block of Burke Street Southeast are intended to “scare the living daylights” out of trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.

“We’ve done this for many, many years,” he said. “For Halloween we go all out. … It gets a little extensive.”



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