Kelli Makenna Kuttruff
Every Halloween many La Verne residents get in the spirit of the holiday by decorating their houses for the community. When driving around town, the festive energy of Halloween is in the air, made possible by the many homeowners who decide to decorate.
Each year, houses on Bonita Avenue can be visited by up to 5,000 trick-or-treaters excited to see the decorations. Houses with themes such as the movie “It,” the “Barbie” movie, alien invasions and even a house with a makeshift cemetery can be found in the festive community.
Inspired by the popular novel and movie “It”, the Creel family pulled out all the stops with their decor outside their home at 2190 Bonita Ave.
Upon arrival, there is the immediate feeling of being transported to the city of Derry, New Hampshire where the film takes place. At the end of the walkway stands a 6 ‘4 animatronic version of Pennywise the clown smiling beneath their banner that reads, “time to float” in splattered bright-red letters. Beside Pennywise stands Georgie, the character who is notorious for falling prey to the clown, wearing his bright yellow jacket and holding his famous red balloon. Those passing by are also greeted by an enormous clown that towers over a black cage with a girl inside.
Homeowners Blair and Damien Creel were horrified by the movie “It” as children, but ended up appreciating the 2017 remake. They decided they wanted to raise their four and six year old daughters without fear, and taught their girls that Halloween is all for fun.
Over time they have slowly added to their home, and their family decorates for each holiday. Blair Creel was inspired to decorate by her mother’s decorations that she remembers fondly from her childhood.
“I would come home from school and would know what season it was by the decorations,” Creel said. “I wanted to instill that in my kids.”
A staple in the community commonly known by neighbors as the “pumpkin house” can be found at 1878 Third St. Owner Janie Marquez has been decorating for Halloween since she moved to La Verne 16 years ago.
This home got its signature name as the pumpkin house from the display of around 150 unique pumpkins that line the home every other year.
But this year the pumpkins are squashed and the front lawn is littered with rows of unique headstones, all with different themes in a makeshift cemetery. Many different characters can be found in front of the house, including a flying witch, a towering Grim Reaper clutching his scythe, witches brewing a concoction in their cauldron, a grave robber and a talking doll. Skeletons and skulls fill the entirety of the lawn, and the house is covered in stretched cobwebs and spiders.
Marquez and her daughter Marina decorate annually, and each year they add onto the house. As early as July, they begin their hunt for their newest additions to their Halloween setup.
“We do this every year and I get thanked by my neighbors,” Marquez said. “This city is so family oriented, and so many people decorate for Halloween.”
At 2279 Bonita Ave. is a home that embodies a spooky alien invasion. This alien-themed house is covered with a trim of green slime, with the neon colors of the decor glowing. Covering the lawn are several bright green aliens, some with showing brains and bulging eyes. There are two mini UFOs and bins overflowing with bright green slime.
The owner of the home, Veronica DaSilva, moved to La Verne from Covina last year following a tragedy that struck her family. Her husband Joey Casias was shot and killed in 2021 by a man who was suspected of theft and then opened fire at neighbors who confronted him. Veronica’s husband was 38 at the time, and was father to three kids.
“My anchor has really been the Lord,” DaSilva said. “It’s almost like a supernatural strength that it takes to be able to pull us from the situation we were in and bring us here to create a new home.”
She opened up her home to weekly Friday night Bible study following the tragedy, and their study of the rapture inspired her to decorate with the UFO abduction theme.
DaSilva believes that La Verne provides a great sense of community for her and her kids, and decorating has given her a creative outlet to pour her grief into.
“I think it’s giving us something to look forward to in the midst of a tragedy,” DaSilva said. “We’ve always been a Halloween family.”
Inspired by the hit new “Barbie” movie, Dominique Johnson at 2269 Bonita Ave. painted her house pink and created the embodiment of Barbie Land. Their family decorates every year since they moved in six years ago, and each year they do a new theme.
Their bright pink house has a matching pink and yellow handle on the roof, inspired by the HBO “Barbie Dreamhouse” special. Family and friends all came together to build a life size Barbie box, a yellow elevator on the roof, a pool and even the famous slide which took about two weeks.
This Barbie House is an iconic staple in the community already, with many pulling over for pictures. They will put the Barbie Box in the driveway on Halloween night for people to come and take pictures and upload them with their family hashtag, #lovepartyof5.
Johnson decorates this elaborately because she loves to have creative outlets, and because she wants people in the community to feel joy.
“It’s terrifying to turn on the news in our country, and I just think in general, society is so overwhelmed with the negative and what isn’t working,” Johnson said. “If we’re able to contribute to bringing positivity and happiness to someone in their daily moments, then it’s a win.”
Kelli Makenna Kuttruff can be reached at email@example.com.