Every year, James Morgan's house on Oak Hill Drive in Lexington has been a go-to destination on Halloween.
"We'll have a line down the block," said Morgan, a window installer by day and a scare master once the autumn nights fall.
Since he was a kid, Morgan, 45, has liked to embrace his dark side.
His small, steep front yard is packed with strobe lights, a small graveyard and an array of scary paraphernalia. including a life-size coffin he built himself.
Although the family also decorates for Christmas, Halloween is Morgan's favorite holiday, said Brenda Morgan, his wife of 28 years. She has learned not to try to temper his Halloween enthusiasm.
Actually, this year a new generation is taking up the creative chaos. J.C. Hocker, Morgan's 5-year-old grandson, helped install the family's terrorscape. When the weather started to get cooler, Morgan said, J.C. was ready to go.
Amid the handmade coffin and do-it-yourself mummy are some touches of whimsy reflecting J.C.'s particular view: Two simple bouquets of black roses line the sidewalk; a brightly colored rubber alligator is chomping on a zombie's hand just a few feet away.
In an age when Halloween has been commonly cited as America's second most popular holiday and decorations are available at most every store, Morgan's display might not be the splashiest or most elaborate in town. But over the years he has invested about $1,000, and it takes a couple of days to put up the display. He expands his collection by shopping the post-Halloween sales for spooky additions.
In the week leading up to Halloween, the lights go on and the music is cued. On Halloween, Morgan will take to the yard in full costume. (The outfit is still to be determined for this year, but he has several from which to choose.)
His handiwork apparently gets the job done.
"I just enjoy seeing the kids' faces," said Morgan. (Read: "The terror in their faces".)
He's been surprised over the years by how many parents run out of his yard and leave their kids behind when they catch a fright. (To their credit, he said, they've always come back to collect their little ones and some of the $150 worth of candy he gives out each year.)
A few years ago, Morgan said, hooligans nearly ruined his fright fest. After several thefts, he was ready to give up his annual performance. But, he said, he's glad to keep doing it for the kids — especially when they scream.
Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.