The thrill of the haunt

Each Halloween, one Marlton resident’s house has been the one to beat when it comes to decorating, and good luck to anyone who tries.

Resident Dave Newman stands outside of his impressively decorated house on the corner of Hopewell Road and Raymond Avenue.

Throughout the month of October, Marlton resident Dave Newman’s house on the corner of Hopewell Road and Raymond Avenue is hard to miss. From the giant spiders on the roof to a front lawn filled with gravestones, skeletons, witches and ghouls and every creepy, crawly thing in between, you’d be hard pressed to find a more complete Halloween display.

One particular piece of the hair-raising collection, a pumpkin-headed ghoul, suddenly comes to life as cars slow to take in the chilling exhibit. Dancing to the sounds of B101’s booming pop music, this ghoul points right back at the onlookers as they pass. Reactions can range from fright to delight, but those familiar know they have nothing to fear – this ghoul is none other than Newman himself.

Year after year, Newman has set up this display himself, a task he estimates takes 48 hours over the course of five days. He usually gets an early start in September so it’s ready and complete come the first day of October.

Last year he was forced to take a rare season off to care for his ailing father, much to the dismay of townspeople who had come to expect the over-the-top decorations, but the display is back in full force this year, and Newman is back to his role as master of ceremonies for his own haunted mansion. 

Newman was born and raised in the corner home his family has owned since the turn of the 20th century. 

“Five generations have lived in this house, but we’ve been in the area since the 1870s, so six generations have lived in the area,” said Newman.

He started decorating his house about 25 years ago, but says it has really taken off and “gotten out of control” just in the past 15 years. He comes by each piece individually. Some are donated, some he finds at thrift stores.

According to Newman, the number one thing people want to know when they speak with him is just where he keeps all of it.

“I’ve got a garage out back and one quarter of my basement is all my tall statues and creatures,” said Newman.

When it comes to the big night, Newman’s house has become a destination stop for trick or treaters. In past years he estimates over the course of the night he sees between 600 and 800 trick or treaters. He enlists the help of his daughter and her family when it comes to distributing candy to the costumed masses.

This year is shaping up to be one for the books, as Newman’s house recently went viral. In an Instagram video that has reached 2.5 million views, a father slowly drives past the house while his daughter shrieks in fear in the back seat.

Despite the attention his house has garnered through the years, Newman isn’t interested in turning a profit. For him, it’s all about the fun he has doing it and the enjoyment it brings to others.

“I’m doing it for Halloween, to enjoy it. I have fun,” said Newman.