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This North Austin home becomes an exhibit for all things spooky every Halloween

A man with his arms crossed in an orange shirt looks at the camera in front of an arch that says "Allandale Cemetery" with a skull on it
Nastassja Collak
Ben Sitton goes all out every year to decorate his Allandale yard for Halloween.

Ben Sitton's front yard is filled with an amalgamation of Halloween paraphernalia: a graveyard dedicated to the women who died during the Salem witch trials to the left, and to the right, a 12-foot skeleton and a portal to … hell? Another universe? This stay-at-home dad leaves it all up to your interpretation with his yearly Halloween display.

Every Oct. 1, Sitton begins setting up all the decorations he’s worked on for the past year. The project in his Allandale yard started small in 2017 but turned into a year-round full-time project two years later. In 2021, Sitton placed first in The Austin Chronicle's Halloween home display contest.

Sitton began working on this year's decorations the day after last year's Halloween, finding materials and assembling the pieces throughout the year. Each piece is a carefully crafted artwork or an antique gem.

Sitton was a chef for 20 years before quitting to be a full-time stay-at-home dad eight years ago.

“I was used to making people happy as a chef," he said, "that’s why I got into being a chef. It’s about creating experiences and memories, and I wanted to have a memory for the neighborhood."

Skeletons pictured in Allandale resident Ben Sitton’s annual Halloween display on Oct. 17, 2023.
Nastassja Collak
Sitton's children provide ideas for the display and give input on what does and doesn’t work.

Sitton, who has lived in Austin for almost nine years, said the city's uniqueness and promotion of individuality influenced him.

“It’s about creating experiences and memories,” he said.

His main goal with this yearly display is to build community throughout the neighborhood every Halloween.

“I try to be creative and let everyone have their own interpretation when they come,” he said.

Sitton pays for the project himself, making the pieces with materials from local businesses like Austin Creative Reuse and Austin Pets Alive.

“Lots from the thrifts,” he said. “A lot to support other organizations.”

A tombstone says "Here Lies John B, 1893-1911," on the ground next to some angels and a skeleton
Nastassja Collak
Sitton says he wasn’t able to celebrate Halloween as much as he would’ve liked growing up because he lived out in the country.

He also collects antique and vintage Halloween decorations from businesses.

Sitton doesn’t do it all by himself though; his 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter often provide ideas and give input on what does and doesn’t work.

“It’s kind of like a family project,” he said. They even helped him create and paint the display pieces.

“The first thing my son and I made was a big spider,” he said.

Growing up, Sitton wasn’t able to celebrate Halloween as much as he would’ve liked.

“I never had Halloween as a kid, because we lived out in the country,” Sitton said.

With this project, he’s able to express his creativity and work with his family to build something interactive for his community.

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