It was a dark and ghoulish night on a dead end street on the westside of Corrales. Creatures were stirring. A crowd of mostly skeletons, some crawling up out of the ground, were gathering in the graveyard for the wedding of the horribly handsome Harold and his headless bride Frieda.

“They decided to get married in a cemetery, and a hearse is coming up from behind,” Mary Smiroldo said, noting the inflatable hearse that was the first Halloween decoration she and her husband Charlie put up in their front yard some 20 years ago.

“They’ve already said their vows,” she continued, as if channeling the narrative from somewhere unseen. “It’s a very happy day for her.”

Carrying her head by her hair in her hand, Frieda’s eyes blink and light up red, apparently expressing her glee.

Frieda and Harold are the centerpiece of what the Smiroldos call their “Wedding in the Cemetery” Halloween display. It’s not the Bugg House, but it is one of the more elaborate holiday displays on any block.

Wedding in the Cemetery
“Wedding in the Cemetery” is the theme of Charlie and Mark Smiroldo’s front yard Halloween display at their home in Corrales.

The wedding party includes a gravedigger, whose eyes likewise turns colors and verbally warns away, in this case, wedding crashers.

“We got him at Home Depot a couple weeks ago,” Charlie said of the newest addition. “Some of these pieces we’ve had for years and years.”

Not new, but repurposed for this year’s display, are a couple of skeletons carrying a coffin. The lid to the coffin occasionally opens, revealing another skeleton inside.

“These folks are on their way to the cemetery carrying a new corpse,” says Mary, who knows how to get into the spirit of Halloween. The couple has more than once spent the holiday in Salem, Mass. to attend Salem Haunted Happenings, billed as “the largest celebration of Halloween in the world.”

“It’s the most amazing place! Everyone is dressed in costumes,” she said.

The Smiroldo’s started their Halloween yard display when they lived in the Rivers Edge II development in Rio Rancho. Each year, it grew and grew.

On Halloween night, Mary would dress up as a witch and greet trick or treaters at the door.

“They called me the Halloween lady. They were always so anxious to see what we had put up,” she said.

They continued the tradition when they moved to Corrales in 2016, but it doesn’t get much traffic.

“It’s a dead end street, and there’s not that many kids that live in the area,” Charlie said.

“But the neighbors love it; that’s why we do it,” Mary said.

“They start asking in the fall, ‘Are you going to put up your display this year?’ said Charlie. “I start about three weeks before Halloween. It takes a lot of time to put together.”

“We like to really do it up,” Mary said.

TS Last, editor

TS Last is the editor of the Corrales Comment and senior contributor to the Sandoval Signpost. A 25-year veteran of New Mexico news, he previously served as the editor of the Journal North in Santa Fe and has worked in the newsrooms of the El Defensor Chieftan and Valencia News Bulletin.

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