- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2016

ROMEO, Mich. (AP) - Some people welcome their new neighbors with a pie or a warm hello. When Kelly and Chris Alvarson moved into their new home in Romeo the first thing their neighbor said was, “Do you like Halloween?”

It was an odd question considering it was nowhere near October.

“I told her, ‘Sure we like Halloween,’” Kelly Alvarson said. “Then she said, ‘No, do you really like Halloween?’”

Turns out they bought a home on Tillson Street.

Being from Ohio they had no idea that during most of the year their street is a quiet area with historic homes. But, with the falling autumn leaves comes a whirlwind of activity created by homeowners with great imaginations and a passion for the creepy, kooky and all together spooky.

It’s also a tradition that began some 35 years ago with one house, owned by Vicki Lee.

When Lee was a little girl, her mother would go out of her way to decorate their house for Halloween because it was her birthday. Plus, she didn’t want her day to get lost with everything else going on.

“Years later, when my children were small I started decorating special for them,” said Lee, explaining the decorating phenomenon on the Tillson Street website.

In those days, Lee was pretty much the only homeowner with children.

“So, when I decorated most of the neighbors thought I was off my rocker. As the years passed, more and more houses started putting out a few more decorations. Younger families moved in and even more decorations went up,” she said.

Now the enthusiasm of one has become a tradition for many, the Macomb Daily (https://bit.ly/2epvnFq ) reported.

“We are a dedicated group of homeowners that take Halloween to the next level,” said Matt Ponke’s post. “Tillson Street has become the go-to Halloween destination for all residents of Romeo, as well as thousands of other visitors from the area. Each year, the crowds get bigger and bigger.”

On Halloween last year Ponke said he handed out more than 2,000 pieces of candy to trick-or-treaters. With about 30 houses that participate that’s over 60,000 pieces of candy in just a couple of hours. Ponke said it’s impossible for homeowners to know exactly how many visitors they get. If he were to guess, annually on Halloween and the weeks leading up to it, it’s around 20,000.

“We ran out of candy that first year,” Alvarson said, while watching the reaction of people walking by her house, decorated to look like an old western saloon inhabited by old customers, as in long gone, dead and buried. Yes, once she and Chris found out about the neighborhood tradition they embraced it, as did their children, Chloe, 17, and Chase, 13, who is the one who came up with the design for their cowboy Halloween display.

“My husband has been working on it since the first of October,” Alvarson said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Her neighbor down the street, Lauren Bojanowski agreed.

For them, it’s the reason they moved to Tillson Street.

“We owned a bungalow in Royal Oak but my husband grew up in Romeo and we always said, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to live on Tillson Street?” Bojanowski said.

As luck would have it, while their home was up for sale, one of the historic homes on Tillson Street also went up for sale. Besides loving the old home built in 1871, the former owners left them their coffins and skeletons.

“We decided to do the Wizard of Oz because it’s one of my favorite movies,” Bojanowski said, looking up toward the second story window where visitors can see the likeness of the wicked witch, cackling with glee.

“This is our first time here, it’s amazing. Our friend told us about it,” said Rebecca Kapusta of Grosse Pointe, while walking down the street with her son, Miles, 3, and her friend, Shelly Martinelli Mabry and her daughter, Gabrielle, 5, who was dressed as a pirate.

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Information from: The Macomb Daily, https://www.macombdaily.com

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