Grandmother's all-out Halloween decorations brings family together
Oct. 31, 2011 at 5:31 a.m.
Updated Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Each time the Mendoza family roared with laughter, a skeleton mocked them with shrieking and an ominous crow.
That'd set off wails from a ghoul in a cage, dangling from the small, orange-flushed house.
It was an eerie scene from afar, but dare to approach the haunted home, and you'll find nothing more than a warm family who uses Halloween for another excuse to be together.
"We all get together ... every year to make the kids happy and use their imaginations," Juanita Mendoza, 58, said.
Numb to the creepy chimes, hair-raising laughter and other noise-censored decorations, Mendoza and her family just spoke louder to each other. They're pretty much used to it.
"Every year it gets bigger," Mendoza's daughter, Sylvia Fonseca, said. "All year she buys Halloween decorations. Tomorrow, she'll start buying more."
Just then, a three-foot Batman approached the table of candy in the driveway to pose the question uttered at front doors everywhere: Trick or Treat?
Batman's mom said he'd been asking all night to come to the Freddie Krueger house.
Mendoza's favorite decoration - a disfigured, life-size Freddie Krueger - hung from her front door on an otherwise drably-decorated block.
"I do it for the kids," Mendoza said time and again.
Ever since the Mendoza's children outgrew their trick-or-treat stages, the mother of 10 said she goes all-out to decorate a home in which her entire family wants to come celebrate.
And they do.
"She does it with Christmas, Halloween, Easter," Fonseca, 36, said. "We like it. She says she does it for the grandkids."
The family celebrations have only become more important since one of the Mendozas' daughters died last year, the family said.
On Monday night, a grinning Mendoza stood in front of her husband, Louis, and watched her kids, grandkids and random costumed kids interact in front of the home it took her little-by-little a couple weeks to set up.
Her kids are quick to mention she does it all herself, but Mendoza turned around and looked a foot higher to her husband. He puts up the decorations she can't reach, she said.
Though he could never match the constant grin on his wife's face, he also surveyed his family and visiting strangers with a satisfied smirk.
"Happy Halloween," Mendoza yelled to a little witch with her hand in the candy bowl.
At the noise, the red-eyed skeleton popped up with its shrieks, and her husband laughed.
"I guess he's greeting everybody, too," he said.