The Hennesys are Mahomet's 'Griswolds of Halloween' for fall home, yard display

The holidays are just around the corner, and decorations will soon appear on just about every home. But there is one house in Mahomet that goes all out for a different holiday — Halloween.

Meet Michael and Meghan Hennesy, who consider themselves the "Griswolds of Halloween."

The couple deck out their West Lake Drive home with the help of sons Brogan and Kelton Hennesy.

"It's just the thought of being able to participate in something that so many people enjoy," Brogan Hennesy said. "It's just a really fun experience."

A 16-foot scarecrow adorned with cornstalks and orange glowing lights that line its body topped with a 5-foot, inflatable pumpkin head greet passersby.

An archway that reads "Hennesy Hallow" serves as the entryway to the family's yard that leads to a cemetery filled with concrete tombstones.

The long-standing tradition began when the Hennesys lived near Salem, Mass. and attended a friend's Halloween party.

"They (the friends) had just bought a house, and it was an old house from the 1700s and it looked haunted to begin with on the inside," Michael Hennesy said. "They were going to demolish the whole bottom floor, so we put a smoke machine in and we decorated everything on the outside and inside. We had so much fun with that."

Something clicked and the two looked no further than their own home to create spooky memories.

When the pair moved near Denver, Colo., they continued the tradition, filling their yard with tombstones.

"In Colorado, it's too windy and those blow away so we had to make cement tombstones, and then you have to make an entire cemetery and then you put a fence around the cemetery," Michael Hennesy joked.

So when the couple settled in Mahomet six years ago, those who caught word of their departure were disappointed to see the spirit of Halloween also leave their Colorado neighborhood.

The couple attended a going away party at a neighborhood friends' house.

"They had a daughter who was turning 18 and we were getting ready for a going-away party, and she had two friends of hers over and she said, 'Oh these are the Hennesys, we're giving them a going away party. They're the house with all of the Halloween stuff,'" Michael Hennesy said.

"And they were like, 'The prize wheel house? They're moving? Oh, that's so disappointing! That's been my favorite thing since I was 10.'"

The family's decorative display became a neighborhood staple.

"We were known as the Halloween house," Michael added.

So when they arrived in Mahomet in September of 2012, there wasn't much time to put up a grand display. They decided to take out one bin of decorations and put up a couple of strands of lights just for fun.

"We had only been here four or five days and our neighbors were like, 'You guys really go all out,'" Michael Hennesy said while laughing. "I just said to Meghan, 'Oh wow, they're going to think the next year is crazy.'"

Now neighbors eagerly await the October festivities and gladly join in the fun of assembling the grand display.

"The two neighbors love putting up the fence," Michael Hennesy said.

"The whole neighborhood gets involved," Meghan Hennesy added.

Not only is it neighbors helping neighbors, but the Hennesys have also made a name for themselves in Mahomet.

Each week, dozens drive by just to catch sight of the Halloween spectacle.

"I like it when I've been decorating for the last two years and people will drive by and yell out of their window, 'We love your house!'" Michael Hennesy said.

Another staple to the family's front-yard display is an 8-foot spider, which they let deflate during the day for several years until one day they heard a sweet story from a neighbor.

"We heard that some kids would drive by and that they would be very worried about what happened to the spider (during the day)," Meghan Hennesy said.

"She was like, 'Daddy, daddy I think their spider is sick!'" she joked. "Michael said, 'I think we'll just keep it inflated the whole time.'"

Come Halloween night, their home is the place to be. A prize wheel sits in their front yard for trick-or-treaters to spin for the chance of winning king-sized candy bars and even cash.

"That seems to bring the kids out," Michael Hennesy joked.

"Kids love a chance at a contest," Michael Hennesy added. "Little kids don't understand the money. They just want a candy bar."

"It's really funny when you hand money to a 2-year-old and they just stand there and they're like, 'Uh no, I'm pretty sure I was getting the candy,'" Meghan Hennesy joked.

The couple also throw an adults-only Halloween party requiring all attendees to wear a costume.

"None of this I wore a T-shirt that says, 'This is my costume.'" Meghan Hennesy said. "That does not fly in the Hennesy house."

They switch out all of the lighting to red bulbs and "really deck it out," Meghan Hennesy said.

As for future of the family's Halloween fun, Meghan Hennesy said she has considered having a night for her boys to have a kid-friendly party.

"I always feel like kids get into that kind of weird age in junior high where they would probably still like to do it (trick-or-treat)," Meghan Hennesy said.

"I thought it would be an outlet to let them dress up," she added. "It might be a cool thing to do."

"We should work on that," Brogan added in excitement. "Eighth grade (next year), we've got to do it."

But more than anything, the Hennesys hope the Halloween hoopla continues to be a source of joy for the community that may even inspire others to join in the fun of the season.

"Just to know that people have fun when they drive by and that they look forward to it is enough for me," Meghan Hennesy said.

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