Trachte family scares up yard display

Werewolves, witches, ghosts and ghouls have taken up residence along Willow Lane, specifically in the yard of Jed and Heidi Trachte.

            "The neighbors love it," said Heidi about the neighborhood along the southern edge of Cedar Lake, northeast of New Prague. "Everybody is supportive of it."

            This is the second year the couple and their daughter, Lexi, a sixth grader, and Jake, a fifth grader, have made their yard a gathering spot for monsters. Heidi said they had decorated before, but had not gone all out like they do now.

            About 20 figures decorate the yard and porch of the house. Several are noise or motion activated animatronic creatures that speak, move or light up, sometimes all three. Two small cemeteries dot the yard with a few zombies or skeletal hands breaking their way out of graves. Two witches gather around a cauldron while a bat screeches from its perch along the garage. A large skeletal figure greets visitors at the front of the driveway, warning them of their doom.

            "My dad used to decorate a lot," said Heidi, explaining that was an influence.

            The family bought most of the items off of Craig’s List. The decorations started going up Friday. Oct. 11, and will be on display through Thursday, Oct. 31.

            The neighbors also celebrate the holiday with the Dejong family holding a pumpkin carving party the weekend before Halloween. The Enge family has a hayride on the holiday. The Trachte family’s decorations become part of the festivities.

            "The dads get dressed up in costumes and then decorate the trail with our figures, so it becomes a haunted trail," said Heidi. "That’s why we got all the big things to go on the trail."

            The dads will jump out as the hayride passes. The moms then go for their own haunted hayride. After the rides are over, the decorations are put back in the Trachtes’ yard.

            "I think it’s awesome," said Lexi about their decorated yard. Asked which is her favorite, "I like the Yoda fish dude," she said pointing to a figure. After that, her favorite is a skeleton wearing a Vikings jersey sitting in a chair. Nearby is a sign that reads "Waiting for a Super Bowl."

            "Our family are Packers fans," said Heidi, adding it’s a little joke since most of her neighbors are Vikings fans.


Spooky fun provides treats for others

            Brett Wegner, his family, friends and others will be offering some spooky fun that will support a good cause. The Wegner house at 1003 Philipp Parkway NE in New Prague is beginning its annual change into a haunted dwelling.

            With the help of more than 70 volunteers, Wegner’s house off of Scott County Road 37 will become a haunted trail. The path wanders through the garage, back, front and side yards. The haunted house will be open from dusk (6-6:30 p.m.) until 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, dusk until 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, and dusk until 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. Wegner said the trail will have a different flow from last year and take up more of the yard.

            While free, they do encourage donations that go to the Peace Center, the food shelf in New Prague. Last year they donated 650 pounds of food plus more than $1,000 to the Peace Center.

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