Lucas Strom admits to being “super obsessive” about his Halloween decorations. This year, after a little hiatus, he is back with the Shady Oaks Cemetery on the corner of Woodcrest Drive and Rosslyn Road in Oak Forest.
“Everybody decorates big for Christmas,” he said. “I’m the Halloween guy. I start thinking about it in July and the day after Halloween I shop the sales.”
He has always gone with the cemetery theme for something that to him was spooky, not scary or gory.
“I didn’t want it to be campy either,” he said. “It is its own world.”
When he lived in Timbergrove Manor, Strom used to wear the costume he got from the now-closed Frankel’s Costume – an 8-foot-tall promotional vampire outfit, marked down from $2,000 to $150. He pretended to be an animatronic vampire in the yard until people were close enough to him to get a real scare. Strom has also worn it during the Houston Zombie Walk in non-COVID-19 times.
On Gardenia Drive in Oak Forest, he had a horse-drawn carriage and hearse that he had built and an 18-minute music and light show. It was featured in the Houston Chronicle. After a divorce and a downsizing, Strom sold the hearse and some of the other items. Now that he is out of a condo and into a house again, he is regrouping.
“I bought stuff in a mad dash,” he said. “Buying is the easy part.”
He is also building again, too.
A new coffin was built in half a day and the cemetery fence took a full Saturday. The Shady Oaks Cemetery sign took a few days on and off. As the years go by, Strom said he has become a more proficient craftsman. And he builds for easy storage so things can be disassembled and laid flat.
In the future, Strom plans to rebuild the hearse.
“I could do it so much better now,” he said.
The tombstones, coffin carrier, front door gravedigger and a Samara (a la The Ring) lookalike that swings from a tree are purchases. On Halloween night, some things will get moved around and a smoke-blowing Zombie will join the living and the dead in the front yard. His new costume came in this week.
“It’s a scary pumpkin thing,” he said.
The initial setup took Strom about six hours. He is still tinkering with the lights.
“I had yellow at first and now I’ve switched to red,” he said. “I still don’t know if I’m happy with it. I’ll do the soundtrack another year.”
This Halloween, Strom and daughter, Mia, are not going trick-or-treating for Halloween but will have a table set up with individually bagged candy for passersby.
Neighbors are already stopping by and it is not unusual to find someone parked outside taking photos.
“Every year I try to do more to keep the kids more interested,” Strom said. “People ask why I do it, and I tell them I am making memories for the kids in the neighborhood. I love the holiday in general.”