As a child in Texas, Tracy Emrich's Halloween experience was epitomized by a house at the end of a cul-de-sac in his neighborhood where neighbors joined together to create a Halloween wonder, including a maze with a witch at its end who bade children to reach into her cauldron for a treat.
"You can't do that these days," he said. "Too many liabilities."
Halloween is like Christmas, Emrich mused, a magical holiday that can make one feel young again.
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Though Tracy Emrich hopes to have much in place after this weekend, the spectacle in total is reserved solely for the night of Oct. 31, tiki torches and all.
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Tracy and Sharon Emrich look over one of the star attractions in their display.
After having been overseas in the U.S. Air Force, Emrich; his wife, Sharon; and their daughter, Kathy, now 22, came to Minot and fell in love with the town, but it was during their 14 years abroad that they decided they wanted to do something special for Halloween upon returning to the U.S. It's now become a part of life annually for the Emrich house since 2002, despite the harrowing snow we sometimes have for All Hallow's Eve.
"The kids that braved it ended up with a lot of candy," he said, with a festive twinkle in his voice reminiscent more of Father Christmas than The Great Pumpkin.
Unfortunately, the high winds prevent Emrich from going to the lengths he'd prefer. "I'd like to do animatronics," he mulled. He's got some new surprises in store for next year, though. "I'm going to buy some Christmas lights and rewire them. I'd love to do a real light and sound show."
Emrich dresses himself in full regalia yearly, enlisting the help of a buddy to hand out candy. Emrich is then free to enjoy the night, frightening adults and children. "I don't scare the little kids," he said, "because that would be wrong. I stand as still as just another decoration." Teenagers, however, are fair game. "I like the challenge."
While the Emrich Halloween display is not yet finished, he plans to have much done after this weekend; however, it will not be in its full glory until Halloween Night. Tiki torches, gravestones, groundbreakers, ghostly couples, skeletons, zombies, vampire flamingos and Death himself will greet visitors.
Viewers and trick-or-treaters are strongly encouraged, as the Emrichs hope to have an even bigger turn-out this year. It will be impossible to miss on the 1600 block of 1st St. SE.