LAYTON â€” Gargoyles, fiendish statues and ghoulish faces guard the cemetery gates that lead to Scatterbrains, otherwise known as Thomas Hackettâ€™s front yard. On Halloween, eerie music will also greet the more than 100 visitors expected to appear on the doorstep asking for treats and hoping to escape without a nightmarish trick.
â€œI look forward all year to decorating for Halloween,â€ Hackett said.
His yard at 684 W. 2400 North, in Layton, is known to be one of the most elaborate Halloween displays in the area.
The Scatterbrains yard can be found on an online map of Utah haunts listed with Rocky Mountain Haunters, a group of Halloween enthusiasts.
â€œI see a lot of people going away from Halloween and trick-or-treating, and I want to keep the holiday alive as a fun day,â€ Hackett said. â€œI want to see kids enjoy it.â€
Hackett, a financial program analyst, said his thirst for building creaking crypts and diabolical characters surfaced about 18 years ago. While working at Hill Air Force Base, Hackett and some other Hill employees put together a haunted house to support D.A.R.E. Week, a drug-abuse resistance program for youth, he said.
â€œI got to keep some things from that, and it just grew from there,â€ Hackett said, noting this year he joined Rocky Mountain Haunters, a group of people from across the state who get together once a month to design and make Halloween props.
For the past seven years, Hackett, his children and a family friend have been adding to the Halloween display, which often catches the eye of unsuspecting people driving by.
â€œI see cars stop and people get out and look; some take pictures,â€ Hackett said.
He acknowledges being deprived of holiday decorations as a child.
â€œMy parents didnâ€™t decorate much, and I wanted my children to have that,â€ he said.
His children, Brittany, 23, and Andrew, 21, have been co-conspirators in the operation since they were very young, Hackett said. Later, they lured in their friend, Tessa Anderson, 13, a student at North Layton Junior High School.
Laughter seems to gurgle from deep inside Hackettâ€™s throat as he promises: â€œWe wonâ€™t chase anyone or try to scare anyone.â€
On the Web: You can find all the locations for Rocky Mountain Haunters online at www.rockymountainhaunters.com