Jill and Eric Smith-Breeden pose with a pair of Halloween skeletons the couple has be positioning and repositioning in their front yard since Oct. 1.

The Smith-Breeden family has, for many years, gone above and beyond to show their spirit for Halloween, often filling nearly every inch of their yard with creepy and scream-worthy displays. This year, though, the family decided to try something more (clears throat) humerus.

“We usually decorate our yard pretty elaborately for Halloween,” said Jill Smith-Breeden, whose family has lived at 514 N. Scottswood since 2008. “And this year it felt like we needed something light and fun for people to enjoy.”

What folks have been enjoying are the daily creative scenes that are displayed each morning on Jill and Eric’s front yard. Scenes that are acted out using up to 15 fake human skeletons, and an assortment of dog, fish and cat skeletons.

Since Oct. 1, neighbors and passersby have seen a skeleton yoga class, birthday party, pool party; skeletons playing the Price Is Right, frolicking in a pile of leaves, playing golf, and hanging laundry out to dry, among others. 

“The one that gets the most attention is the carwash,” Eric said of the scene that showed five long-dead characters working their fingers to the bone to get the family car squeaky clean.

Each morning Jill and Eric reposition the skeletons to their new scene. Eric credits Jill with coming up with many of the scenes. He said she works several days ahead coming up with new set ups. 

“Every time I say it’s going to be easy, it winds up taking longer than it should,” Jill said. “We did a yoga scene and it seems like it took an hour and a half to get that one done. It should have been straightforward and simple, but the skeletons didn’t want to cooperate.”

Halloween is Jill’s favorite time of the year, and the family normally goes all out with decorations. She said they will continue to put the skeletons out until Halloween, but will add more decorations to their yard next week.

“The week of Halloween we’re planning to put out some of our usual decorations,” Eric said. “The skeletons will still be the main focus, but they’ll be in Halloween scenes.”

Jill said their kids are a little embarrassed by their parents’ enthusiasm for decorating. “But that’s OK. It’s fun. They will be well-prepared — with decorations — for whenever they have a house of their own.”

“We normally do the interior of the house pretty well, but this year we’ve taken a step back,” said Eric. “With COVID, we couldn’t just have a bunch of people over. We’ve been doing it every year and the number of decorations we get just grows and grows. We’ve got way more than we should.”

The Smith-Breedens said the response from neighbors has been overwhelmingly positive. They’ve received many comments about the skeleton scenes, and cars sometimes honk and wave as they pass by. 

“People who are out walking stop and take photos,” Jill said. “Some say they look forward to seeing what’s different every day.”

Jill and Eric said they drive around their neighborhood to see other homes with elaborate Halloween decorations. When they have seen some, Eric said he thinks there are fewer people decorating. 

“I think they might be down a little bit this year. But there are a number of houses that are really well-decorated. This neighborhood on Halloween, as you can imagine, is crazy. There are so many people. It’s a wonderful environment on Halloween. So much fun.”