Couple enjoy Halloween haunts

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Register/Richard Luken
The home of Mike Larios and Kim Bender is filled with an assortment of Halloween decorations, included this severed head and other spooky sights.

Nestled just east of Michael Larios’ lawn is his boneyard. Skeletons of all sorts, some half-buried, glare at passersby.
At the other end of his house, giant 3-foot spiders menacingly move toward their prey, caught up in their web. A skeleton who apparently made his trade as a pirate greets visitors at the front door.
And of course is the display’s centerpiece, an inflatable haunted horse carriage, complete with pop-up vampire.
All are decorations for Halloween, which Larios calls his favorite time of the year.
Larios and Kim Bender, at 717 S. Sycamore St., were named the winners Tuesday of the Iola Pride Committee’s Halloween Decoration Contest. They received a homemade pumpkin pie for their efforts.
The Halloween decorations have been a hobby for Larios for more than 10 years. Each year, he adds to his display.
This year’s add-ons are the automated spiders.
Normally, the spiders are designed to be displayed on the ground, Larios explained.
“But I wanted something more,” he said.
So Larios set up fake spiderwebs from his roof to the ground. Special screws fastened the spiders to the web, adding to its authenticity.
The display is so expansive that it’s easy to miss a part if you don’t pay attention, Larios noted as a severed head with motion sensors let out a moan when a visitor walked past.
HIs boneyard comes complete with custom made tombstones made from leftover insulation panels.
“He usually starts thinking about his Halloween decorations in July,” Bender said.
The pair are meticulous about what they display.
“It has to fit in with the rest,” Larios said. “We won’t just put up anything,”
The pirate skeleton was added last year after Larios stopped at a store in Topeka. The sellers were offering a discount because the pirate didn’t move at it was supposed to.
“It was so authentic looking that we had to have it,” Larios said. “All it has to do is stand there and you get the effect.”
Until last year, Larios and Bender lived along the 400 block of East Jackson Avenue, which is filled with homes elaborately decorated for Halloween. Their inflatable carriage was a popular attraction for young trick-or-treaters, Larios recalled.
“We probably spent $300 on Halloween candy alone that year, and we still ran out,” Bender said.
They moved to South Sycamore in 2008 and anticipated slightly smaller crowds because of its distance from downtown.
“We only had six or seven show up,” Larios said. “We had a lot of leftover candy.”
Bender hopes that with the Pride Committee’s recognition, and the daily Haunted Molly Trolley Rides that pass by their house, visits will increase this year.