To say Kam Bruski loves Halloween might be something of an understatement. In fact, the whole family is head over heels for the holiday. In the yard of their home at the corner of Cheyenne and Fifth …
To say Kam Bruski loves Halloween might be something of an understatement. In fact, the whole family is head over heels for the holiday. In the yard of their home at the corner of Cheyenne and Fifth streets, this really shows.
They start marking the occasion at least 60 days out with a nightly movie that is either a horror film, a gory picture or a campy romp like “Young Frankenstein.”
But the family’s love for Halloween spills out of the house and onto the lawn. And into the garage, too, but that comes later.
About 12 years ago, the Bruskis started collecting inflatables. They now number about 10, ranging from collie-size to enormous fire-breathing dragons that flap their wings. Each one has a name and its own story of when and how it came to join the collection.
“The oldest is our Harley guy,” Bruski said, indicating a monster on a motorcycle. There are three new ones this year — ghosts with pumpkins, a Grim Reaper and Frankenstein in an airplane. Usually she finds them at big box stores on clearance in early November.
Every year, the Bruski garage is decorated in a theme, and the family serves cotton candy to everyone who stops by. Because of COVID, this year the theme is “Election Infection” and Kam and her husband Nick will be in HAZMAT suits as they serve the candy up.
Their 17-year-old daughter, Triniti, is a fan already,
preferring zombie stories but also honoring the Day of the Dead from Hispanic culture.
“She appreciates the connection it offers to dead ancestors,” Kam said.
Her second daughter, Ayla, 14, struggles with an autoimmune disease that keeps her housebound much of the time. In creating a unified harmonious house of horror, the teenager serves as the family’s “artistic director,” helping determine which inflatable should be placed where.
Psychoanalysts have noted that decorating early for one’s favorite holiday can improve a person’s mood. Most commonly the resident decorates for nostalgic reasons, because they want to remember the fascination the holiday held for them as children; decorations can help recreate childhood excitement. Holidays also provide a sense of stability because they are a constant year to year. And considering how the year 2020 has been, that is understandable.
According to research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, people who put up decorations earlier are also friendly and likable.
“Research suggests that U.S. residents may use holiday decorations on their home’s exterior to communicate friendliness and cohesiveness with neighbors,” reads the study.
The journal article fits right in with Kam Bruski’s bubbly, giggly nature. That same characteristic serves her well in her work as a substitute teacher.
“Even if it didn’t make anyone else happy, it makes us really happy,” Kam said. “And it really is a happy time. But a lot of adults forget it’s magical.”
The two biggest detriments to the decorations, Kam said, are the wind and keeping small children from tripping over the guy lines that anchor the inflatibles. Snow too early in the season can do great harm, too, since it can ruin the blower motors.
The hope is to keep the decoration plan going for a long, long time, adding to it each year. “I hope I’m out here doing this when my grandkids can help,” Kam said.
In spite of wind, weather and COVID-19, the Bruski clan will be out on Halloween, stirring up the cotton candy to hand out in bags from their decorated garage.
“Come out and get some cotton candy. Come see us,” Kam tells the school kids, the neighbors and complete strangers.
“It’s just so much fun for us and it makes everybody happy,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be able to forget who you are for a while.”
(Edit: This version corrects the spelling of Kam Bruski's name.)