If you’ve driven through the center of Yankton over the Christmas season to view the holiday lights, it’s more than likely you’ve driven past Dr. Larry Jones’ house at 1903 Douglas Avenue. His faithful winter holiday display has even expanded to Halloween, which has become a well-visited event on All Hallows’ Eve.

The friendly and hospitable retired chiropractor sat down with me to talk about how the display began, laughing as he explained it. He and his then fiancée, Paula, moved into their house nestled in on Douglas Street about 24 years ago, just before Thanksgiving. While he had been out of town visiting his parents in Miller, South Dakota over the holiday season, Paula had placed a lone strand of lights on the bushes in front of their house. She suggested to Larry that they should drive the golf cart to the front yard and put a snowman decoration behind the wheel and add lights on their interior fence.

“That’s how it started,” he laughed. “Then every year I would put up more and more. I used to put up more lights, now it’s more inflatables and I put flood lights on everything.” The flood lights serve a dual purpose: helping the spectators to better see the display at night and serving as a safety feature so no one trips on the guide wires that hold down the inflatables.

The display that I remember from years ago has changed over time. What once used to be over 8,000 holiday lights has now evolved into a scene of inflatable creatures. He guesses that he has about 15 different inflatables each for Halloween and Christmas. As he gets suggestions about a specific inflatable to add to his display, he finds that he often has that one already.

“I actually have no more room to put inflatables unless I take something out,” he explained.

One reason why he’s made the transition from lights to inflatables is because it saves time, as he now assembles the display alone. Though he has lost his wife, he still plans on carrying on this tradition while he is healthy. He now works at the display in spurts of time over a longer duration. It takes him half a day just to pull everything out from storage in his garage.

“Halloween used to take a couple hours (to set up), now it takes a couple days,” he laughed.

His routine for putting up the display has also changed over the years. When he had a larger light display, he had every light strand marked with a number corresponding to a designated location. He’s become more spontaneous in his display over time, now putting the lights up wherever he feels like it. He still puts up some creative decorations that his wife made years ago.

Jones’ Halloween display has become even larger than his Christmas display, making his home a popular stop for children out trick-or-treating. He guesses approximately 600 kids stop by for Halloween to see the display that begins at 5:00 PM, though he’s never counted the number of visitors. He tried to tally the people one year but stopped after a few minutes due to the crowd of children.

He enjoys getting into the spooky spirit for the frightful holiday, donning a black outfit and a Grim Reaper mask. With the uncanny ability to remain mysteriously still, he would sit at the patio table in front of the house, waiting for children to view the display. As people approached him, thinking he was a mannequin, he would scare the spooks out of them, laughing about how the men jump back and the women scream. He’s cautious when young children approach and removes his mask so not to startle them. “After all,” he smiled, “it’s all in fun.

His begins to put up his Halloween display mid-October, first cleaning up the massive piles of leaves that are dropped from the abundant trees in his yard. In the days leading up to Halloween, Jones’ display is partially lit for spectators driving by. On Halloween, the rest of the display is lit up and can be better seen by walking through his yard. It surprises him how many parents he talks to that have taken their children to his house for the holiday. He tells a story he heard from one of the spectators last year. A policeman was placed on each end of the street to detour traffic away if they weren’t stopping at the Jones house, to help assure the safety of the children out and about.

His work on the Christmas display begins as soon as the Halloween display comes down. He tries to keep the display lit for around two weeks over the holiday, but he might vary this timeframe slightly depending on weather conditions.

Jones has run into a new obstacle in his tradition, this time not the lack of space. Over the years the hedges lining his property along Douglas Street have grown, increasing his privacy from the busy street. He enjoys the privacy it’s given him, but the display has become more difficult to see from the road. He hasn’t quite decided what to do about the obstacle, but he does welcome spectators to walk through the display. To avoid congestion or accidents, he asks those visiting to park on Douglas Street or across the street at Memorial park.

He admits that all the work he puts into the display is worth it. “Halloween’s a blast,” he laughed. It’s apparent in listening to him talk about his tradition that he has as much fun with it as the spectators do.