Aug 30, 2023 - Economy

These 12-foot skeletons aren't just Halloween decorations

 A growing number of skeleton owners are keeping the decorations up year-round with seasonal wardrobe changes. Photos: Courtesy of Katie Shealy (left) and Samantha Reynolds (right)

A growing number of skeleton owners are keeping the decorations up year-round with seasonal wardrobe changes. Photos courtesy of Katie Shealy (left) and Samantha Reynolds (right).

Halloween enthusiasts are extending the spooky holiday by weeks and months — and in some cases year-round — with giant skeletons.

The big picture: These 12-foot skeletons, known as Skellys, are moving into more neighborhoods, being named by owners and amassing a large wardrobe that includes Santa hats and Easter bunny ears.

  • "Who would have ever thought that you could celebrate Valentine's Day, Easter, the Fourth of July or even Christmas with a giant skeleton?" said Lance Allen, Home Depot's senior merchant of decorative holiday.
  • Katie Shealy, of Columbus, Ohio, is even bringing her 12-foot skeleton — who is known as Alfred in the neighborhood — to her wedding and making him a top hat.

State of play: Home Depot's Giant-Sized Skeleton is believed to have started the skeleton frenzy when it launched in 2020.

  • It retails for $299, and is sold out on Home Depot's website but a limited supply is landing in stores ahead of Labor Day.
  • Despite the demand, this year is slated to be the last that Skelly is available, Allen said earlier this summer.

Other retailers have launched larger-than-life decorations like Lowe's 12-foot scarecrow, which is also sold out.

  • "There is a very loyal group of Halloween enthusiasts that look for new and exciting products every single year," Bill Boltz, Lowe's executive vice president of merchandising, told Axios.

Skeletons vs. homeowners associations

Not everyone is thrilled about the new neighbors, especially when the skeletons stay up long after the holiday.

  • On Facebook groups dedicated to finding and decorating the skeletons, letters from homeowners associations are often posted.

The intrigue: HOA requests to take down their skeletons are part of what inspired Katie Shealy, of Columbus, Ohio, and Nicole Sheldon, of Anchorage, Alaska, to turn the decorations into permanent residents.

  • Sheldon put her 12-footers Jon Bone Jovi and Eddie Deader up last fall and planned to take them down soon after Christmas. But the HOA request changed everything.
  • "They live here now. They are never going to come down," said Sheldon, who is a social worker. "It just kind of became this thing where then every month I started making t-shirts."

Bad weather temporarily knocked them down but her Halloween display is growing with new "friends," Sheldon said. She added a 12-foot skeleton from Sam's Club, skeletons from Costco and three 10-foot skeletons from arts and crafts chain Joann.

  • "The intent is for sure that the [original] Home Depot 12-foot skeletons are going to be year-round," Sheldon said. "I am committed to spooky season for life."
  • Shealy's skeleton debuted last fall wearing Ugg boots and holding a pumpkin spice latte and has been decorated for holidays including Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. It was the Statue of Liberty for the Fourth of July.

"The skeleton house"

Samantha Reynolds' skeletons were causing some traffic problems in front of her Del City, Oklahoma, home, which is at a four-way intersection.

  • "Every time we change them, people were pulling off the road to see them," Reynolds said of her 12-foot skeletons Reginald and Grace Skelly.
  • She said it got so bad that she made a Facebook page to share photos of what the skeletons are wearing with her local following.
  • The local police and fire department also use her house as a landmark. For instance, they direct people, "to go two blocks past the skeleton house," Reynolds said.

Fun fact: Sheldon buys 7X t-shirts for her skeletons, while Reynolds said she buys shirts from 3X to 6X and shops big and tall sales.

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