HAWTHORNE, N.J. – Every October, one home on Lafayette Avenue in Hawthorne becomes scare central for the borough.
The mastermind behind the fright fest, Tony Rodrigues, constructs an army of creepy figures on his front lawn for Halloween. Starting in September, Rodrigues mixes mask with tailored clothes to create a haunted feel to his property.
"Almost the whole year I think about Halloween," Rodrigues said. "It's the best, it's about fun."
Rodrigues, 45, works on upholstery and designs for a living — an expertise he brings to his holiday decorations. Aside from purchasing masks, he makes the frame and alters the clothes himself so they each have a unique look.
The cast of characters includes ghosts, zombies and monsters, including one dressed as a butcher clutching a large knife —.Rodrigues's favorite.
"For the first and second and second year I dressed as the butcher," he told Daily Voice. From there he would jump at unsuspecting passersby and startle them.
This October marks the 11th year for Rodrigues in Hawthorne and for his decorations. Though it started as only one or two items, it grew to about 125 for this Halloween.
Originally from Portugal, Rodrigues said he grew up celebrating many festivals. When he moved to the United States as a 25-year-old, he did not see the same type of events – except for Halloween.
Rodrigues shares the enthusiasm for Halloween with his family, including his three children. His twin 16-year-old boys, Justin and Phillip, both said it is "tons of fun" and "very cool" to live in the house behind the scary characters.
The Rodrigues house has become an attraction around Hawthorne, as many people stop to stare or take pictures. Some react to it better than others, Rodrigues said, especially when he pops out while in costume. He recalled one family who ran so fast they left their young child behind, and another person who needed a change of pants following the scare.
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