WINCHESTER (CBS) — What do you do with a love of art, engineering and Halloween? If you are John Downs of Winchester, you combine your passions to raise money for Children’s Hospital.
It all started when Downs was in the 3rd grade and admired a neighbor’s Halloween display. He decided to do one himself.
Now, more than a decade later, that grade school project has turned into something that rivals a Halloween theme park, complete with ghosts and other figures that jump out of closets, beds and even an outhouse. There are lights, and sound and lots of smoke.
“It’s creepy, but cool creepy,” one neighborhood boy said looking at the display.
“A lot of the stuff is homemade,” explain Downs, who graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in studio art this year.
Props are made from trunks, and cages and stuffed animals gathered from the side of the road, the town dump, and anywhere else he could find interesting things at a reasonable price.
The display has grown every year and so did the crowd. Four years ago, that gave Downs an idea.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to get people to make small donations,” he said.
And donate they did.
“Over the past four years, we’ve raised over $20,000, and I’m hoping to raise another $10,000 this year,” Downs told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens.
The display is part of the Halloween Helping Kids program, which raises money for Boston Children’s Hospital’s program designed to help families with teens at risk of suicide. It is an important issue that Downs believes needs more attention.
“Mental health is an area that most people don’t like to talk about. I think that’s one of the most important areas that we should start talking about,” he said.
This year, Downs said he began working on the display way in May.
“It takes about six months to build,” Downs said. “And then starting in late September, it starts to go out in the front yard, and then that takes three weeks itself.”
The display is located at 42 Franklin Road, Winchester, MA.
Anyone who wants to see the show and donate can stop starting at 6:30 p.m. every night leading up to Halloween.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports