One Delaware retiree is hoping to use his Halloween decorations to scare up some money for a local charity.
Ken Jacquot has invested more than $4,000 and hundreds of hours into creating the spookiest scene on his block. He began transforming his lawn into a haunted graveyard this week, bordering his property with Gothic fence and black fabric roses.
By Monday, the scene will be complete with giant inflatable ghosts and ghouls, monster spiders and 20 hand-carved and hand-painted tombstones. Smoke will seep from the four coffins that Jacquot made from scratch, some containing a surprise for those who dare peek inside.
His decorating obsession began three years ago when his last-minute handmade coffin received rave reviews from the community, Jacquot said.
The following year, the retired stockbroker made Halloween preparations his part-time job. Every week, he said he spent up to 20 hours a week finding, building and painting props.
That year, his goal was “to blow everyone off the block.”
This year, he saw an opportunity to collect more than just stares.
“I thought that there’s gotta be something else we can do with it, other than to put it up, have trick-or-treating for two hours and then take it down,” Jacquot said. “I thought it would be nice to do something to charity.”
Impressed with a neighbor’s experience with the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Jacquot chose to dedicate his decorations on this local agency’s behalf.
His plan is to post a drop box for families to leave a donation at their own discretion. No admission will be collected and 100-percent of the donated money will go toward the board’s “Focus On Abilities” program, Jacquot said.
Trick-or-treaters are invited to visit the haunted cemetery between 6 and 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 261 Richards Circle in Delaware.
The board representatives for the disabilities board seemed pleasantly surprised by the idea.
Communications director Susan Munday said that this is the first time someone has reached out to the board to create a fundraiser on his or her own initiative.
“We were flattered that he wanted to give back,” Munday said. “(Especially) in an economy where it’s hard to raise money, period.”
Upon Jacquot’s request, staff volunteer will handle the donations while Jacquot doles out the Halloween candy, Munday said.
Even if this grassroots charity doesn’t raise much money, Munday welcomed the idea as a means to raise awareness.
“He isn’t going to make millions of dollars for us and that’s okay,” Munday said. “Just the fact that he wants to reach out is enough.”
She said the donations would go into the board’s levy campaign fund.
Helping Jacquot make the decision to promote DCBDD was Makenza Miesse, an 8-year-old who began experiencing severe vision problems since she was eight months old.
The board provided various vision equipment and helped pay for therapy that was not covered by Makenza’s family’s health insurance, said Rosie Miesse, Makenza’s mother.
The agency helps assist people with mental as well as physical disabilities, reaching out to more than 2,100 people in the county, Munday said.
At the end of the Halloween season, Jacquot hopes he raises as many goosebumps for his visitors as he does dollars for DCBDD.
“I just really enjoy the joy that (the youth) have for stuff that you don’t have any more as an adult,” he said. “You can experience a little bit of that joy seeing them excited.”
The haunted cemetery is about 1.5 west of downtown Delaware. Richards Circle is located off of Applegate Lane, which connects to West Williams Street.