Halloween houses haunt upon Barrett Avenue hill

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A scattering of “Halloween houses” on Barrett Avenue have gone all-in on decorating their front yards and facades for the occasion. All photos by Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

High upon Barrett Avenue where the street winds uphill along the Richmond-El Cerrito border, an East Bay neighborhood is emerging as a go-to spot for Halloween trick-or-treaters. Their ominous invitation? A scattering of “Halloween houses” that have gone all-in on decorating their front yards and facades for the occasion—ghosts, ghouls, witches, spiders, bats, gravestones and pumpkins to boot—a welcome mat for lovers of the macabre if ever there was one.

Every year that invitation is answered a thousand fold, with a multitude of trick-or-treaters flocking to Barrett Avenue for a climb uphill that offers up the sweetest of rewards for the little goblins among us: CANDY, and lots of it.

“Last year we bought 12 pounds of candy and we ran out at 8:30 p.m., so this year [we’ll have] about 16 pounds of candy,” said Barrett Avenue resident, David St. Jean.

“I grew up in Canada and we always decorated our house for Halloween…but I’ve seen other houses around the neighborhood [decorate] and you feel like you’re in the groove and you have to put forth your own effort, so it’s fun,” he added regarding decorating his Barrett Avenue house. “There’s a lot of children that come on this street now so we want to make a little extra effort.”

St. Jean happens to live across the street from one of the neighborhood’s stand-out houses in terms of Halloween decorations, complete with a tall pumpkin-headed creature dressed in a white robe, ghosts playing Ring-around-the-Rosie, punny gravestones (“Yul B. Next”), a headless woman and more arranged on the front lawn. This reporter has seen the house in all of its glory on many a Halloween night, and it’s a spectacle of the scary, to say the least. Look for the pumpkin-head house on Barrett Avenue at the Brooks Avenue cross street. You can’t miss it.

According to St. Jean, it takes his neighbors about three weeks to set up their lawn with the decorations, the piece-de-resistance being a little ghost that “flies” from the house toward the sidewalk via a zip line.

We recently checked out the Barrett Avenue Halloween scene and found that—although incredibly well decorated houses can be found all the way up the hill, the most spirited ones in terms of decorations can be found along the stretch between the cross streets of La Honda Avenue and Carlston Street.

Check out our pictures from our visit to Barrett Avenue’s Halloween houses and share your favorites in the comments!