‘It’s a labor of love,’ Patrick ‘Halloween Guy’ Kenniff says
By Jessica Meditz
During Halloween season, the typically tame and tucked away 75th Street in Middle Village looks like something straight out of a horror movie.
To anyone else, that statement might be taken as an insult — but for Middle Village native Patrick Kenniff, it’s the ultimate compliment.
Kenniff, a musician who goes by the stage name of “Swan,” has been providing haunts and happiness to the community for 20 years straight — by decorating his home on the corner of 75th Street like no other.
He began sharing his extravagant display in 2003, which features decorations galore including inflatables, elaborate lights, Halloween music and sound effects, life-sized statues and even larger-than-life figures.
“I grew up with 10 brothers and sisters, so Halloween was something we always celebrated together. I started doing [the decorating] with my daughter, but now she’s a teenager and is too busy to help,” Kenniff said. “This whole thing started with a few little things here and there, and then it just got out of control and spiraled.”
Kenniff said that his decorations have accumulated over the years from a variety of well-known places, such as Home Depot and eBay — however, he’s proud to say that he made quite a few of the decorative staples himself.
Halloween is his favorite holiday of the year, which also played a role in motivating him to decorate his home annually.
But the largest motivating factor year after year is seeing the joy and amusement from all the local children and families — who aren’t afraid to express their appreciation.
“Every year, I change it up a bit,” Kenniff explained. “One year I wasn’t going to do the decorations, and these little kids came around and put a note in my door that said, ‘Please, Halloween guy, when are you going to put the decorations up?’”
“I knew I had to do it,” he said.
Kenniff said that the process of decorating his entire house from top to bottom takes about a week and a half to two weeks to complete; however, the process is not as tedious for him as it may seem — since he has a planned-out system.
Many of the oversized statues, some of which are half the height of the house itself, are stored in Kenniff’s garage, completely assembled year-round.
In addition, he made it known that the decorations visible outside are not all that he owns, and he has many more stored away inside his garage and basement.
“I got twice as much stored away,” he said with a laugh. “I literally have no more room for anything else.”
Every year, the house attracts over 500 trick-or-treaters — not including the countless number of adults who also stop by to take their selfies.
In fact, selfies and photography are something that Kenniff enthusiastically encourages for all who pay a visit, as seen by the The Middle Village Halloween House Facebook page intended for the community to share photos and memories.
“I have chairs set up right in front for people to sit and take pictures. I also have different toys right here that I’ve found from over the years, because I know the kids like to touch things,” he said. “It’s a little interactive.”
Among the spooky friends inside the interactive tent are characters from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” including Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie and Zero the dog.
On the porch guarding his door, surely to spook his pizza delivery man, are classic Halloween villains, such as Freddie Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Pinhead and IT. Being that the original “Halloween” is Kenniff’s favorite movie, Michael Myers naturally made an appearance.
In the past, Kenniff would invite visitors into his basement, where he also put on a display.
He discontinued the feature over the past few years due to the pandemic, but still goes above and beyond to make the house special and memorable for all.
“It’s a labor of love,” he said. “During COVID, I almost didn’t do it, but realized I had to because people need something to smile about.”