They’re creepy and they’re spooky, and very often they drip with blood or other gore. They startle by daylight, but at night, surrounded by fog or haunting lights, these monsters of the season draw crowds and plenty of gasps as they attract trick-or-treaters as well as others from inside and outside the city.
This year, Halloween season in Bayonne features some of the classic places that have been mainstay of the tour of horrors for those who want to get a peek at some of the more outrageous displays. Some of these are off the beaten path, while others sit out in the middle of the busiest streets in the city, slowing traffic down as drivers peer out to take a peek.
The Gaeta family once again puts on their show in front of their house on West Schuyler Place, where they have been offering aninmatronic figures for more than five years, including witches, skeleton, mad doctors and more.
About eight blocks away on Avenue A near West Sixth Street, the owners of the Big Apple Restaurant continued a tradition of their own, daring trick-or-treaters to step over the threshold of their front steps and up the path where the lawns, porch and upper floors are filled with glaring Halloween monsters.
A smaller but impressive display can also be found on Avenue C near West Fourth Street that makes use of ghostly figures and air inflated displays that come to life at night.
Cannella house comes alive – again
Frightmare on 16th Street, located on Kennedy Boulevard, is perhaps the longest-running display in Bayonne, and though it has toned down somewhat over the last few years, it still presents an awesome sight in the weeks leading up to the frightful holiday.
Putting up his awesome Halloween display at his home near 16th Street for nearly 34 years, Tom Cannella used to incorporate his family and friends into the routine, dressing up for the night of horrors to give additional impact to a display of horrors that already drew people from miles away.
For Cannella, who grew up with 1950s science fiction and horror movies – classic films with movie monsters that have influenced many modern filmmakers, such as George Lucas, John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg – Halloween always had a special place in his heart.
“I watched those films all of my life,” said Cannella during an interview last year. “I started out small and just added something every year.”
Most of the additions have some interactive component, such as a moving arm or characters that suddenly come alive whenever someone comes near.
The interactive elements are only part of the fun. Over the years, family members and friends have joined in what amounts to a large Halloween party by dressing up.
“We try to add something new every year.” – Stephen Gaeta
Gaetas offer gore galore
Although Stephen Gaeta and his wife Anita have been decorating their home West Schuyler for many years, they really began to pull out all stops about six years ago, filling their front yard and porch as well as the upstairs porch with animatronic characters that cackle and scream, eyes glowing red as they wield knives or axes.
At an operating table, a mad doctor lifts the top of his own head to expose his brain, while nearby a six-foot, six-inch clown lifts his head off his shoulders, and a man with a machete suddenly raises the weapon as you pass near the front door.
“We try to add something new every year,” Gaeta said.
At night, especially during the weekend before the holiday, everything lights up, fog flows out over the graveyard, and, yes, the Gaeta family dresses up, so that it is difficult to tell which creature is human and which is machine.
People seeking to find the remote location of the house may need to be aware that West Schuyler Place is at the end of North Street just off Avenue A in Bayonne. This is somewhat confusing because the unconnected Schuyler Place is only a block away.