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Scary Boulevard

October 27, 2011

by Rachel Zeh

Jerry Sykes at his Halloween home (Rachel Zeh)

Decorations are so elaborate at one house on South Manning Boulevard that this Halloween some 600 kids are expected to trick-or-treat.

Passersby may have noticed the homemade haunted palace that sits at 100 South Manning Blvd., but few know the history behind this extravagant display.

The house is owned by Jerry and Ilene Sykes who are also the proprieters of The Party Warehouse on Fuller Road right here in Albany. Every decoration on their lawn comes
straight from The Party Warehouse. Every year Jerry Sykes tries to create a new display for the community, adding at least one new attraction each year. All of the decorations are stored in the Sykes’ basement and are only brought out once a year, just two weeks before Halloween. The displays consist of lights, cob-webs, spiders, inflatables with moving objects inside as well as motion activated sound chips. Beware if you’re walking past this spooky sight, you may hear some noises that will cause a fright. The creation of the display is a one day job that occurs two weeks before Halloween. Sykes seeks the help of three employees from The Party Warehouse every year. In total the display takes about five hours to create.

The display attracts trick-or-treaters from throughout the city. Year after year parents drop their kids off on the boulevard strictly to see the Sykes’ production.

The display has really turned South Manning Boulevard “into a Halloween destination,” said neighbor Paul Andrew Hackett. He has lived on South Manning Boulevard for 27 years and every year he looks forward to seeing the display.

“It’s so visual, the kids go crazy,” said Hackett. “He’s really created a Halloween extravaganza.”

If you drive past their house on Halloween day motorists will most likely find kids in costumes sitting on their front lawn while their parents take their picture in front of this Halloween masterpiece.

What are this years must have costumes for kids? The characters from the popular doll series, Monster High, come in first place according to Carolyn Krajewski store manager at The Party Warehouse. Friday and Saturday are expected to be big costume days at the story,  said Krajewski.

(Rachel Zeh)

The community has taken a huge interest in the Sykes’ decorations. In fact, many who once lived in the neighborhood return every year to see the display.

“Young children and their parents come from all over the Capital District to enjoy the display” said R. Mark Sullivan, next door neighbor and president of The College of Saint Rose. “Halloween is an event that stretches the imagination of children. Jerry and Ilene bring joy and fascination with Halloween sights and sounds to so many children in the Pine Hills and Albany.”

Halloween isn’t just a holiday for the Sykes’ it’s also their wedding anniversary. They came to Albany 27 years ago and spent a large amount of time looking for a business. They bought The Party Warehouse and expanded it to 3,000-square-feet.

Sykes said his Manning Boulevard home was actually the first house built on the boulevard in 1927. The couple has three children all of whom have grown-up and moved out, never getting a chance to partake in this Halloween tradition.

When Jerry Sykes grew up as a kid a lot of Halloween activities were mischievous, now Halloween seems to be more of a happy celebration for Sykes.

The real purpose of putting on the Halloween display is the fun that comes out of it. “You try to do whatever you can to make the community more fun and enjoyable,” said Sykes. -30-


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