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An eerie twist on Manning Boulevard

October 28, 2013

by Katelyn Doherty

For the first time in 15 years trick-or-treaters will no longer swarm to what once was the busiest, spookiest house on South Manning Boulevard. Instead they will be greeted by a for sale sign. The Sykes are moving.

The Sykes opted not to frighten buyers when they resisted the urge to decorate their home this year. A spooky soundtrack and a lawn abundant with scary figures and headstones would be “in conflict with our ability to sell,” said Illene Sykes.

Homeowners, Illene and her husband, Jerry, spent the past 30 years in this home and are now ready to move on. No longer will eerie creatures arise two weeks before Halloween to frighten and excite passersby. This 86-year-old seasonally haunted mansion, built in 1927, needs another owner.

The house located on 100 South Manning Blvd. is a spacious single-family 4,250-square-foot home. This seven bedroom, seven-bathroom house equipped with the essential first floor living space for a large family is on the market for $624,900. With only the two of them living in the house now, the Sykes plan to downsize yet stay in the neighborhood.

Trick-or-treaters will be greeted by only a for sale sign this year at 100 South Manning Blvd./Katelyn Doherty

“We love the neighborhood,” said Illene Sykes. Although they will miss the Halloween excitement, they are ready for a change.

Traditionally, the Sykes relied on workers from The Party Warehouse to set-up the display yet without owning the business this year it would have been harder to decorate. Each year two managers from the warehouse spent an entire workday creating a frightful scene that included lighting, cobwebs, little people and creatures, body bags, giant inflatables, and running spine-chilling soundtracks that were triggered when pedestrians walked by. While this neighborhood haunting lasted two weeks prior to Halloween all decorations were removed the very next day.

The house became the ultimate destination for city dwellers far and near who journeyed from all over to experience the spectacle. Even people who had moved out of the neighborhood came back yearly to see the display. Neighbor on South Manning Boulevard, Dyrleif Bjarnadottir felt it was always a fun part of Halloween to walk by the Sykes’ house. Without them decorating this year “it will be a little less Halloweenie,” said Bjarnadottir.

Averaging at about 1,200 trick-or-treaters last year, which doubled in the amount expected two years ago, the number will only begin to decrease now. Each year the Sykes kept track of the amount of trick-or-treaters by giving out large bags of pretzels that contain about 50 small individual bags and would then count how many were empty by the end of the night. The Halloween festivities began around 3 p.m. and continued until 10:30 p.m. when the lights were finally shut off.

The decorating was appreciated by community member Elaine Fromer who said they were always generous when it came to Halloween and it “was a really nice thing to do” for the neighborhood. Hundreds of children enjoyed the decorations and always looked forward to seeing them.

Visitors never damaged or vandalized the property. Everyone who came to see the display was always respectful. Although this time of the year could be hectic, “all in all it was a wonderful experience,” said Illene Sykes.

At times finding a place to park on the street throughout the night became chaotic but many parents felt it was still a very safe place to allow their children to walk around and trick or treat.

Jerry and Illene Sykes standing in front of their home that will only be decorated with a Halloween wreath this year/Katelyn Doherty

Jerry and Illene Sykes standing in front of their home that will only be decorated with a Halloween wreath this year/Katelyn Doherty

Sykes hopes that people do not travel too far this year just to find out there are no decorations. She’s “sure there are going to be a lot of disappointed kids,” said Sykes.

Unlike the past years, this year the only decoration adorning the Sykes’ house will be a giant Halloween wreath above the front door. They will still welcome trick-or-treaters that ring the doorbell along with giving them the usual Halloween treats. There will be no tricks this year.

These spooky creatures and creations will no longer live on Manning Boulevard weeks prior to Halloween. Instead, somewhere, in Guilderland, an 11-year-old Halloween addict will spread the holiday spirit at his undisclosed location using all the decorations the Sykes’ bequeathed. He has already begun planning out his first display.

The neighborhood will have a different feel with the Sykes gone.

“They are an asset to the community, deeply involved in many wonderful causes,” said Karen Glaser, their realtor and a family friend.

A house that was once a yearly tradition for many will be put to rest this Hallow’s Eve. Married on Halloween, the Sykes, once relocated will finally be able to go out and celebrate their anniversary.

“It will be a different Halloween,” said Illene Sykes. “We’re going to miss the whole thing.”


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