Halloween Night looks a lot like Matt Kaprielian's childhood dream.
The Park Ridge resident has smoke blowing across the lawn and animatronic skeletons rattling a cemetery gate. He has a casket from an actual funeral home and a mannequin painted to look like a corpse inside.
Kaprielian's got tombstones and rats, jack-o-lanterns and ghouls. And most importantly, Kaprielian has hundreds of trick-or-treaters.
The 30-year-old New Milford native grew up helping his mom transform their house for spooky season. They made the decorations themselves and spent days perfecting them, hanging them up around the house.
Naturally, Kaprielian fell in love with the holiday, and dreamed of one day owning a haunted house.
He hasn’t gotten there yet, but he’s damn near close.
"When I was looking for a house I knew I wanted one with a big yard for Halloween stuff," said Kaprielian, who purchased his property at 138 Ridge Ave., in Park Ridge in 2018.
"I'm really fortunate to have a decent property and good neighbors."
A lifelong artist, Kaprielian buys very little when making his display. He makes it all himself, just like his mom did.
The structures and tomb stones are made of wood and contain insulation foam. Kaprielian spray paints the outside to look like real stone.
He buys the skeletons but dresses them up himself. He has guidance making the electric elements from how-to and DIY projects posted by other "Halloween nuts" on niche websites he's stumbled upon over the years.
Kaprielian has gotten so good at doing it that he launched a side business, Dusk Productions, making decorations for haunted houses around the country. He sells anything from customized corpses for local families to large scale decorations for amusement parks.
Kaprielian is thinking about his Halloween display the moment last year's comes down. He recycles all of his old material but tries to add at least one new element, and give his lawn a different set up each year.
Setting up the display takes about two weeks, and he does it mostly alone (it's his vision, and he wants it just so).
Kaprielian's neighbors don't mind the display or the attention it brings one bit.
"Whenever people ask me where I live I tell them across from the haunted house," says Ridge Avenue resident Frank Izzo. "They're like, 'I know where that is.'"
"[Matt's display] brings a lot of excitement to the holiday and he does it for a good cause."
Kaprielian has a donation box set up on his driveway for Bruce's Legacy, a non-profit organization providing emergency assistance, education, public safety awareness and search and recovery operations for drowned victims to provide resolution for families, its website says.
Bruce's Legacy happens to be the same organization that recovered the body of Kaprielian's childhood friend and Dumont native Ryan Normoyle from Lake Tahoe.
Kaprielian pours his heart and soul into his display each year. Ask him why, his answer is simple: "At the end of the day I just want to entertain people.
"For people to show up and appreciate it is why I do it."
Visit Matt Kapreilian's display at 138 Ridge Ave., in Park Ridge from now through Halloween.
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