Food for Fright offers tricks donates treats

POULSBO — Jon Phelps’ home stands cleverly disguised as an average American dwelling most days of the year. But come Oct. 31, a haunted cemetery will arise in his yard offering enough shrieks and scares to spook the socks off visiting trick-or-treaters.

But while Phelps and his fellow Woods & Meadows neighbors may be stringing their yards this Halloween with a bonanza of frightening foes and malevolent spirits, it is all in the name of a good cause.

“That’s the one thing about Poulsbo, is there’s a lot of community involvement,” he said. “We’re going to have a good time and give back to the community while we’re at it.”

Now in its third year, Food for Frights, a Woods & Meadows All Hallow’s Eve event, is once again taking non-perishable food items in exchange for a safe — albeit spine-chilling — place to trick-or-treat. As street signs encourage drivers to park and walk, nearly 10 houses throughout the scarily-clad neighborhood will offer more thrills and chills than the average Little Norway home, and voting ballots will be available for trick-or-treaters and their parents to choose which plot of goblins, ghouls and ghosts gave them the shivers best.

“It’s not just known for more decorations than usual,” Phelps said, pointing out many of the residents in the area can be expected to dole out full-sized candy bars to the visiting vampires, princesses and action heroes. Last year, the neighbors were able to donate more than 300 pounds of food to North Kitsap Fishline, and this year Phelps said he’s hoping they top the amount with 500 pounds. He might make it, too, because between 300 and 600 kids tour the haunted housing each year, and the numbers keep getting larger.

“The number of pounds per year is growing and the number of kids coming through is growing,” he said. “I just thought, ‘Why don’t we try to take advantage of that?’”

Food items can be dropped off at a tent located at Brixton Place and Arcadia Court, where a map of the houses and voting ballot can also be picked up.

Phelps won the decorating contest last year by a small margin, and said this year he’s added to his cemetery-themed yard ornaments, which now include more than 20 tombstones and mechanical props.

Neighbor Ken Peterson does his own to keep visitors on their toes. He begins preparing for the holiday in early September, and even built a full-sized coffin for the event. Skeletons, tombstones, a cauldron boiling over with fog, a ghastly green remote-controlled ghost and pyrotechnics are just a few of the frights he has in store, and it is often waiting parents, not just trick or treaters, who let out a scream.

“It’s all about the reaction,” Peterson said. “There’s been a few priceless ones over the years.”

Though his display is an impressive one, Peterson said it is surrounded by a barrier so no kids can get near any potentially-dangerous paraphernalia. In his 14 years of decorating for Halloween, no issues have ever arisen.

“It’s actually a really big draw for people,” he said, adding he builds a fire pit for those looking for a little warmth. Though his yard could rival the best, to Peterson, it isn’t about the competition. “It’s mainly for the kids... That’s the whole reason I do it.”

And despite the scary exterior, he said the event really is family-oriented.

“We just ask that they drop off a couple canned goods for people who don’t have a lot,” Peterson said. “There are people that, you know what, might not have candy, let alone something else to eat that day. I think that’s a small price to pay for someplace safe to come trick-or-treat.”

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