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St. Clair Shores

The haunting of Maple Street

October 24, 2012

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Three-year-old Jonathan Trepton mimics the ghoul atop the haunted house his father, James Trepton, builds for Halloween every year.

Tucked away on a quiet dead-end street, neighbors never know just what may be going bump in the night.

Is that Freddy Krueger standing watch over the lawn? Or wait, there’s Captain Jack Sparrow is sailing through that yard, with Davy Jones in quick pursuit.

No matter what dark, scary or haunted creature you can think of, chances are James Trepton and Eric Iannucci have its likeness somewhere sprawled across almost a dozen yards in the 21000 block of Maple Street, east of Harper Avenue.

The men have taken on Halloween as their own for the past five or six years, filling their lawns — and those of their neighbors’ — with creepy crawlies, skeletons galore and even UFOs. And if you stop by, be sure to look up: there are more surprises lurking above your head as you saunter down the street.

The decorations “started off small, buying a few things from Rite Aid,” said Iannucci. “It just got out of hand.”

A haunted house dwarfs Trepton’s home, and scenes straight out of Disney’s The Pirates of the Caribbean sprawl across several other yards. Across the street at Iannucci’s house, the Tombstone Saloon sprawls across the horseshoe drive, where the Grim Reaper drives off in a Black Mariah hearse and a UFO lands in the cemetery in his yard.

The spooks and frights take all month to assemble and set up, and Mother Nature isn’t always cooperative: mid-October high winds had the pair scrambling to save their props and re-setting entire scenes afterward.

And though most of the skeletons, ships and more can collapse, the duo still requires a storage trailer, attic and garage space to keep it the remaining 11 months of the year.

“The neighbors love it,” Trepton said. “They don’t have to do nothing. We do it all.”

“We could easily go more houses,” Iannucci agreed.

For a dead-end street, the pair said they get a lot of traffic coming down for a peek. They host a special party each year for neighbors, friends and family to come and enjoy the haunted house in full swing, with a mad doctor, gigantic hairy spiders, a crazed witch and more chasing passersby out.

“A lot of people say, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this,’” Trepton said. “We just add on every year. You got to make it better every year.”

Iannucci said it’s a tradition they plan to continue for Halloweens to come.

“As long as we’re both living here, it’s how it’s going to be,” he said. “We don’t do much for Christmas.”

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