By Daniel Thompson

Local residents scare up Halloween spirit


Daniel Thompson

Don and Carol Meyer stand in front of their yard which is filled with a multitude of Halloween decorations.

For most residents, Halloween is a time to dress up in pop culture costumes and go door-to-door trick or treating and gorge on candy as the night winds down. However, for the Meyers, it's a time to break out boxes upon boxes of decorations and give the people of Kimball another great show.

Don and Carol Meyer, who reside at 501 South Adams Street, spend each holiday season hanging lights and placing a plethora of props on their lawn in order to celebrate certain holidays.

"Ever since we've been in town, which has been about 50 years, we've decorated something. It became kind of an addiction I guess or an obsessive compulsive disorder kind of thing. Every year it increased. We got more lights and more props. It was mainly Christmas at the start," Don said.

Though the decorations initially started smaller with Christmas being the main holiday that they focused on, as time went by, their focus expanded to include Halloween and various other holidays and observances after Don's retirement from Kimball Public Schools 12 years ago where he had spend the last 41 years teaching.

"I had time on my hands and my mind, we both did, and we didn't want to hang out in bars and such so we just got more and more into this. Probably the main catalyst was pleasing our three kids and our six grandkids. They are our toughest critics or judges. We have to get better every year, or they won't come and see us during the holidays," Don said with a chuckle.

However, it was not simply Don's excess time due to his retirement that led to the Halloween decorations but also the requests of friends and family members along with local residents.

"It was public demand, starting with our grandkids and kids in this town and people that are kids at heart like us. It's a nationwide trend. More and more people have been doing big displays. It's been increasing greatly on Halloween. And it's being commercialized more and more," Don said.

Though most people would be content with simply hanging up a few lights and setting out a few scarecrows and other Halloween props, the Meyers take the display to another level via a musical light show.

"It's more fun to do, and it's hard to do a musical light show where you have rooftop singers. I think we have about 11 up there that mimic the lyrics, and that really attracts people. They really enjoy it. It's fun to do it. It's tough and requires a lot of patience," Don said.

While Don is responsible for building most of the props, hanging the lights and placing decorations on the roof, Carol serves as the technician and controller of the light show, using her computer to sync the lights and props mouth movements with the music, a process which can often take a few days to get perfectly right.

"Some of our songs are six or seven minutes long, and I'll spend two or three days on it. Then I'll go back and fine tune it. If the mouth doesn't move quite right, it bothers me. I have to go check it and make the little changes. I like to keep it right to the music," Carol said.

According to Don, the flashing lights and movement of props is made possible by several controllers which consist of 16 outlets.

"The middle man are these controllers. They are actually the valve machine that turns the strings of lights on and off, dims and flashes or whatever," Don said.

The display also takes about seven miles of extension cords to power it.

Most residents would think that such a display would run an electric bill up to a point of making the project cost prohibitive. However, there's little extra expense because of the use of LED lights, according to Don.

"Our biggest electricity bill during our displays is for powering the water fountain in the front yard, not for the thousands of lights. Right now we have a little more than 20,000 LEDs out there and that includes all the eyes of all the scarecrows flashing and fading off. Christmas time, we will have five times that. We'll have over 100,000 LEDs," Don said.

The display has not only attracted the attention of local residents, but also brings passersby through the area through the reach of the Meyers' Youtube channel which contains videos of their light shows from previous years.

"The Youtube channel has really helped us. One person yesterday or the day before said he was at Cabela's and talked to somebody there who had heard about us, and I think it was through one of our cards. At Cabela's in their spare time, besides getting on hunting and fishing channels, they've been getting on ours," Don said.

According to Don, a previous year's video which used the theme song from the popular movie 'Ghostbusters' received approximately 120,000 views when posted to their channel, the most they had ever received.

"Halloween is actually the favorite thing for whoever views us, and I think it's mainly kids. I know teachers, especially in the elementary grades and especially when we first started with the music light show, were playing it in their classrooms and letting the kids watch our videos," Don said.

However, it is not only the internet videos that bring visitors to the display, but also simply word of mouth, according to Carol.

"We had somebody from Grand Island. She was here for square dancing, and she was with a guy who was from Berthoud, Colorado. They came over here, because they had heard about us before so they came over to see it before the dancing started," Carol said.

Though the display takes around two weeks to fully set up and ensure that it syncs with the music properly, the Meyers take great pleasure in doing the work, if only just to make sure other residents and local children are entertained.

"We're just happy to share with people," Carol said.

In Don's mind, it's truly the support of the community and expressions of gratitude for the display that make the hard work of putting it up worthwhile.

"We get expressions of appreciation all the time, and that's what keeps us at it. To us, really, this is the way that we kind of help serve the community. It's our gift, our present to the community and the county," Don said.

Residents interested in viewing the Meyers videos can do so by visiting their youtube channel at or to take part in this year's display, which will feature the Ghostbusters' theme, 'Thriller' and the 'Monster Mash', simply get in your car, park by the display, turn to 107.7 FM, and enjoy the show.


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