Victoria woman creating exceptional Halloween displays
VICTORIA -- There’s a television commercial from the early 1970’s that shows a trio of musician in lederhosen. While the tuba player and accordionist keeping playing, the man banging on the drum stops to hold up a chocolate bar. “Yah!” he says, smiling into the camera. “It was my Coffee Crisp!”
Back when commercials looked like that, Tara’s dad found Halloween inspiration.
“[He] got a box and painted the best facsimile of a Coffee Crisp bar,” she smiles, stretching her arms wide. “So I walked around the neighbourhood as a giant Coffee Crisp!”
Another year he transformed her into Cousin It from the Addams Family, ensuring that young Tara was always the most turned-out trick-or-treater.
“It’s my favourite holiday ever,” she smiles.
Her favourite subject was science, which led to a degree in pathogenic microbiology, focusing on the tiniest of creepy critters.
“It was kind of a morbid curiosity. [But] I didn’t like being in a lab,” Tara explains. “So I got a teaching degree and then stayed home with my kids.”
That’s when Tara combined her scientific brain with her fond costume memories to teach herself how to make the most out of Halloween for her kids. She discovered she had a hidden talent for constructing spooky characters.
“My children actually grew up with me building these creatures,” Tara says, before demonstrating their surprise. “[They’d] take their time coming around the stairs [because] they might catch a glimpse of one of my creatures!”
Now they regularly celebrate the spooky season with their mom. Tara shows me pictures of her children dressed as bloody zombies or intricately painted for Day of the Dead.
This year they helped her create life-size characters from packing tape.
“You wrap yourself in Saran Wrap so the clear packing-tape doesn’t stick,” she explains. “And you keep wrapping about four layers.”
After her kids carefully cut her out, Tara taped the seam, and hung the ghost-like shapes that remained around their front deck.
This year she was also inspired by a Doctor Who episode about a group of stone angel statues that come to life.
“The minute you blink your eyes or turn your back on them, they turn into a terrible creature and eat you.”
Now Tara is devouring the challenge of doing what she’s never done before — trying to replicate them.
She shaped pool-noodles into wings, and cotton balls into hair, before covering the frame in with a mud-like substance. Now she’s sanding and sculpting them into remarkable recreations.
The creative process is offering her a sense of accomplishment and practise in perseverance.
“If there’s anything these last eight months [during the pandemic] has taught us, it’s perseverance,” Tara says. “A lot of people are missing out on their family and their jobs and really struggling.”
So, the trio of statues in her backyard will join the dozens of other creatures Tara created to fill her front yard.
There, a collection of skeletons seem to fly through the trees, sinister scarecrows preside over a patch of ghoulish pumpkins, witches concoct potions around a cauldron and those pack-tape ghosts glow in the dark.
Tara says her collection of characters is being displayed to connect with the community.
“If people can come by and have a little fun with my display in the times of COVID, I’m happy that they do.”
Experiencing Tara’s creepy, creative display is almost like indulging in a Coffee Crisp for a ‘nice light snack.’