Heather Missen has been going all out for Halloween since she was a kid and remembers the excitement the holiday brought her. It wasn’t just candy and costumes, it was a feeling she craved and wanted to bring to life for kids in Bonnyville.
Heather jokes about being known as the Halloween House in Bonnyville, “it wasn’t my intention, it was purely for kids. But everyone loves it, I’ve had eighty year olds come by and they want to take pictures and go through the whole thing. I think it’s for all ages, not just the kids.”
Eight years ago, Heather discovered blow-up Halloween decorations and really fell in love with them and the variety available. The blow-ups brought a cartoony nature to Halloween, which eliminated the scary-spooky side, that can sometimes scare children. Heather didn’t want her trick or treaters to fear her home, she wanted a fun-welcoming house that would be a hit for children, parents… and just people of all ages. A true Halloween House that anyone could enjoy.
“That’s the only reason I do this,” explains Heather, for the kids, “I don’t have any decorations that are super scary or ghoolish, because I want them to enjoy it. I think it’s about cheerful, fun, so the kids can enjoy it.”
Heather wants to help eliminate a town misconception in Bonnyville that there is a shut-down time of 7:00 pm on Halloween. To clarify, the town bylaw actually states that after 7:00 pm children, under the age of 15, must be accompanied by an adult. Heather would like everyone to know her home is open to trick or treaters, passer-byers, and spectators until 10:00 pm on Halloween. “I want people to be able to enjoy the decorations before Halloween, too. It doesn’t have to just be on Halloween night that they can come up.”
“When I moved to Bonnyville I was shocked by this curfew,” Heather explains she presented to Town Council last year to have the bylaw, which was passed in 1929, voted out, “it became my goal after that to fight it. I’m hoping to get people to back me up.” One of her reasons is long hours many parents have to work in the oilfield, “some parents get home at six o’clock and barely have time to take their kids around.”
Due to the common misconception throughout town, many believe Halloween has to shutdown at 7:00 pm. Many people take their children home regardless of whether or not the actual bylaw states that it’s a adult supervision curfew. Many homes also shut off their lights, indicating that they home will no longer handout treats. Heather hopes to grab the towns peoples’ attention and let them know that Halloween isn’t over at 7:00 pm and if someone wants to trick or treat her home will be open until 10:00 pm and she hopes many other homes will follow suit.
Since putting up the decorations, Heather has had plenty of people come by, “this week we’ve had multiple families come up the walk-way and they’re screaming and hollering, having a good time. I want them to come up and follow the trail. Come in anytime, I want the families who can’t make it on Halloween to enjoy it too.”
Heather’s home is 4710 50 street Bonnyville, just north of the hospital. It’s an older part of town and has older residents, who are excited to have the decorations in the neighbourhood, “one of my neighbours joked about having to buy more candy because of the attention from our home; which they loved.”
Heather has invested over $5000 in her decorations, which took four people eight hours to layout, plan, and erect. The blow-ups self deflate each evening and inflate each morning on a timer. There are a few decorations Heather saves for Halloween, partly so there’s something special that day and partly because they could get ruined if the weather turns unexpectedly. Heather has never had any problems with vandals, “it is what it is, if they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it. Halloween won’t make a difference.”
Since Heather has been putting up her decorations, she’s seen more and more kids each year, “the first year there was only 70, the next year it was up to 200 and last year 250 kids.” Heather hopes the number of kids who trick or treat at her home will continue to grow, “that was my goal. Halloween doesn’t have to be dark or scary, it’s something that can bring a smile to all ages.”
The decorations will be done November 1st, so be sure to add Heather’s Halloween Home to your trick or treating route. Candies will be handed out 3:00-10:00 pm on the 31st, but if you wish to get a sneak peak the decorations are up and ready for you at 4710 50th street, Bonnyville.