- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015

KENNESAW, Ga. (AP) - Before Patty Quinn and family moved to Kennesaw four years ago, they would completely make over their Florida home at Halloween and played host to up to 400 guests, many of whom would timidly tiptoe through their homemade haunted house.

“It started small and just got bigger and bigger every year,” Quinn said. “We had a graveyard outside and flaming, floating things in the pool.”

“We would dress up,” she said of herself, husband, Kenny, and daughter, Brenda. “And we had friends in almost every room who were also dressed up and part of the decor.

“They would suddenly move or speak and guests would scream.”

Quinn said the decorating fun started years before because Kenny and Brenda, who is hearing and learning impaired, enjoyed celebrating Halloween so much.

When they moved to Cobb County, they found themselves in a smaller neighborhood she describes as “really wonderful.”

During their first Halloween there, much of their gear was still boxed up, so they decorated on a modest scale.

“The neighbors were amazed,” she said. “And we had to tell them we only put up about a tenth of what we had in the way of decorations.”

In 2013, the family’s focus shifted suddenly to a real-life scare when Quinn was diagnosed with stage four head and neck cancer.

The next year, her best friend of 65 years was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.

“Karen had lived in Cobb for 50 years,” she said of her friend. “She’s the reason we moved here.”

Quinn, now 71, admits she didn’t expect to survive her own cancer, but she thought her best friend would make it through.

After surgery and treatment, Quinn did recover.

Karen died in March.

Although cancer treatment left her with a minor speech problem and the loss of her dear friend, Quinn still finds great joy by helping others.

She’s involved in causes such as The Center for Children and Young Adults and volunteers for the Salvation Army.

She also retained her enthusiasm for celebrating Halloween.

“This is the first year we are pulling everything out of the boxes and going all out,” she said.

“All out” includes three graveyards surrounding the house and special effects indoors.

They are hosting a weekend party for friends and neighbors, complete with a caricature artist and psychic.

Next year, they plan to host children and teens from the Center, many of whom have never had a chance to experience a real family Halloween complete with haunted house and treats.

For now, Quinn is just trying to get back into the swing of the scary season after taking a break for a few years.

“Sometimes we forget to turn something off and I’ll walk into a room and a horrible moaning and wailing will start,” she said. “It still scares me, every time.”

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Information from: Marietta Daily Journal, https://mdjonline.com/

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