Stand on Loretta Chmura’s front porch in Nanticoke, press the button and instead of ding-dong hear … What’s that? A ghastly shriek?
Oh, how clever, you think, as you recover your composure. Chmura must have programmed her doorbell to sound like Halloween.
But that’s not it at all, Chmura explains. While she loves this festive holiday enough to decorate her East Grand Street home with everything from monsters to ghosts to a great, big, illuminated felt pumpkin, she doesn’t do anything to the doorbell.
What sounded a bit like the strangled cry of a ghoul or the blood-thirsty screech of a werewolf was just Cocomo, Chmura’s friendly parrot.
“He’ll settle down when he gets used to you,” Chmura said, explaining the several hundred trick-or-treaters who visit every year usually find Cocomo at least as interesting as the candy and potato chips she has set aside for them.
If children are seeing the exotic tropical bird for the first time, they really get excited, Chmura said. “They’ll say, ‘Is he alive?’ ‘Look, Mom, he’s real. A real, live parrot!’ “
From his vantage point in a large cage, Cocomo will be able to see and hear the trick-or-treaters who often sing a little song or tell a little joke while they show Chmura their costumes — just as their parents did before them.
“There are families that have been coming here for generations,” said Chmura, 65, who works at Wesley Village in Jenkins Township and serves as president of the Nanticoke American Legion Auxiliary when she’s not busy decorating.
She’s enjoyed making her home look festive for 33 years, ever since she and her husband, Joseph, moved in. Over the years, her Halloween collection has grown.
The friendly witch in front of the house was made by Chmura’s friend Marilyn; the big felt pumpkin was made by a florist named Stanley. Frankenstein hands emerge from the ground, there are plenty of ghosts on guard, and even the lion statues that grace the front steps year-round are sporting costumes of their own, one of which Chmura fashioned from a mask and a babushka.
As for her next big decorating effort, it won’t be Thanksgiving. “That’s too close.”
Chmura will, like so many others in the area, soon be getting in gear for Christmas.