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County woman creates Halloween display from scratch

  • 2 min to read
County woman creates Halloween display from scratch

Canón residents Sharon Chism, left, and Esther Smedly stand with one of the Halloween decorations from the elaborate display in Chism’s yard.

CANÓN — A blindfolded woman holds her hands out, almost touching a coffin that has fallen out of the back of a hearse as the grim reaper watches.

No, this is not a scene from a horror movie; it’s a section of Canón resident Sharon Chism’s front yard.

Chism has decorated her entire front yard for the third year in a row with gravestones, werewolves, skeletons and much more in the spirit of Halloween.

When asked how long it took her to amass such a large collection of headstones, skeletons and animated creatures, Chism replied 20 years with a mischievous grin.

“Some people would say I have a problem or that I am obsessed,” she said. “But I like Halloween because it brings out the child in me.”

Although Chism said this was her third year decorating her front yard, she said she has been building props and helping her son Charles Reagan dream up scares for nearly 15 years.

“We started scaring people in Ennis, Texas, successfully for 12 years,” Chism explained. “When we moved here, it was more important for (Reagan) to bring his cemetery that it was to bring his furniture (laughs).”

County woman creates Halloween display from scratch

In the beginning, Chism’s son would build a Halloween display that could only be seen from behind a fence, she said.

“He helped me the first year I did this, but ever since then, it’s been me and my neighbor Esther Smedley putting the Halloween displays together,” she said. “Now we have the display set up so people can bypass the fence and walk around the different themes.”

Smedley said since she helped Chism clear her yard so she could build the haunted attraction, she keeps an eye on the displays at night.

“I make sure no one gets in or messes with the displays, much like (Chism’s) own security guard,” Smedley said.

While she was growing up, Smedley said her family did more for Christmas, so she was excited at the opportunity to help her neighbor celebrate Halloween.

“It wasn’t until I was a teenager that we started celebrating Halloween; ever since, I’ve been trying to make up for lost time,” she said.

County woman creates Halloween display from scratch

This year, as patrons walk through Chism’s brand-new permanent archway covered with skeletons, they can enjoy a new Wild West graveyard and a witch’s tea party set up in front of an abandoned house.

“We will also host our own version of Zozobra by burning a witch on Halloween night,” Chism said. “This is our way getting rid of the bad and starting a new year fresh.”

There is no cost to anyone wanting to see Chism’s displays; instead she has opened up her yard for everyone to enjoy her haunted motifs.

Chism’s exhibit, named Haunted Jemez, will be open on Halloween until 10 p.m. Weather permitting, the family who puts on the attraction will offer hot dogs, chips, drinks and s’mores around a campfire to anyone attending. 

The area is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. up to Halloween. Haunted Jemez is at 2897 NM 485 on the road to the Gilman Tunnels.