Rob Horton leads visitors around a tidy stack of decaying coffins on his patio to point out the path trick-or-treaters follow to get to his door. Up from Lost Lake Drive along the demonic driveway, through the haunted “parlor” in the garage, moulder for a moment in the Maynes family crypt, and then on to the caldron of candy. But those are just spooky, he says — no real startles or scares in the bunch. (But for the very young, there’s a special detour to the candy trove so they can skip the scarier Halloween “treats” he’s arranged.)
“However, if you enter the cemetery, you belong to the denizens of the cemetery,” he warns. No surprise that most people in the neighborhood are dying to visit the house each year to see what he and Kari Harbert have added this year. The Lost Lake Cemetery gates creaked open for the first time in 2007, and it’s become a favorite stop for trick-or-treaters from all over town.
This year, the drive-by cemetery along Pine Trail (Whyley Road, off State Route 119 beside Craven’s Package Store at Four Corners, turns into Pine Trail) has acquired a few new resident ghouls and stones. The cemetery grows a bit every year… “We try to keep it kind of fresh. Every once in a while I’ll throw in something cute that people will notice. There’s one Pink Floyd gravestone, just little things like that so if you’re looking closely enough… every once in a while someone will laugh and go: ‘That’s Funny!’” And then there’s the talking skeleton, the motorized coffin… the list of decor enhancements goes on until nearer to Halloween, a few live actors populate the neighborhood.
Halloween is Horton’s favorite holiday, so much so that he either celebrates or is getting ready all year ’round. He’s a “haunter,” a guy who loves creepy so much that he creates movie-quality props and special effect most of the year, leading up to October 31. Sculpting gravestones, dressing skeletons, running power lines and rigging lights, prepping costumes for friends who help haunt the cemetery… the head gravedigger is always busy. Off season, there are haunter’s conventions to attend, where he works in a booth for the Garage of Evil website, a haunter’s do-it-yourself social network that he helps administer at www.garageofevilnetwork.com. The cemetery itself has a home on the ‘net at www.facebook.com/LostLakeCemetery .
The Lost Lake Cemetery is lit up along the roadside through October from dusk (about 6:00 p.m.) to midnight. The house only receives visitors and shows off the whole range of decorations on Halloween evening.
Horton started decorating when he was in high school in Pepperell, collaborating on Halloween yard decorations with his parents. “One year they made a bunch of headstones out of cardboard and we put them out for a few years, played the spooky sound effects records. When I got into high school and was too old to trick-or-treat, me and my brother would put them out and do new stuff. Then I moved here, and a light bulb went off — I have a yard! And it’s all been downhill since then,” he said.