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Victoria senior creates elaborate, family-friendly Halloween displays

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VICTORIA -

For decades, Deborah Biggs's days unfolded in unremarkable ways that she describes as “mundane.”

“You do your job, nine to five,” Deborah says of her career in IT. “You come home.”

You raise a family. Until that one day you come home and find your kids are all grown up

“You go, ‘Hmmm. Empty nest,’” Deborah says. “[Now there’s] three rooms I can fill with something else."

Deborah also found she had free time to fill at least one of those rooms with previously unexpressed creativity.

“As you get older, you find things that you didn’t know you had,” Deborah says. “And you go, ‘Damn. It’s almost too late.’”

When she’s not making up for lost time by transforming ordinary wool into extraordinary needle-felted animals, she's turning thrift-store finds and custom creations into one-of-a-kind Halloween displays.

“Now that I’m retired, I have all the time in the world,” Deborah smiles. “So here we go!”

Deborah starts planning a year in advance, begins constructing her characters months before the big day, and doesn’t finish adding new elements until Halloween night.

“I just enjoy the process,” Deborah says. "And I enjoy [seeing] the people’s smiles.”

For more than a decade, families have flocked to Deborah’s Linden Avenue home (in Victoria’s Fairfield neighbourhood) to appreciate displays ranging from the Wizard of Oz and Pirates of the Caribbean, to Alice in Wonderland and this year’s Day of the Dead.

“It’s to get away from the commercialism,” Deborah says of her free, family-friendly displays that visitors can walk through. “And just to have something that kids can enjoy without being traumatized.”

While hundreds of visitors every year express their thanks by depositing thousands of dollars into a donation jar for local animal shelters and food banks, Deborah is most grateful to see how her display inspires families making meaningful connections and lasting memories.

“When you’re younger you think, ‘Oh, I’ve got all the time in the world.'” But that’s not the case,” Deborah says. “You’ve really got to take the time.”

Which is why Deborah now takes the time, Halloween or otherwise, to make her days anything but mundane.

“We really need to grab on to whatever brings us joy,” Deborah says. “And just go for it.”

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