Halloween feels like a perfect fit for Connecticut. The cooler weather, changing leaves and abundance of colorful gourds are quintessential signs of fall, and usually add a special “spookiness” to the holiday.
But one Cheshire resident was preparing for Halloween while most were thinking about going to the beach.
Patrick Woodward has been working on transforming the front of the 1112 Avon Blvd residence into his “Avon Boulevard Cemetery” since the summer.
“He [Patrick] has been working so hard on this throughout the summer and he has a real genuine interest in Halloween,” said his wife, Jennifer Buffington. “I have been watching this all unfold and it’s been amazing to watch. He has made everything by hand and he has really gotten into it.”
Woodward’s display has everything likely to satisfy a Halloween fanatic’s dream. There are zombies, skeletons, and a grave digger statue named Hank. Each piece has been carefully crafted by Woodward, with the goal of raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“He’s a veteran himself and he couldn't be more patriotic,” laughed Buffington. “Patrick has always been very active in the veteran community and this is just one of the ways he wants to give back.”
The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is a non profit organization that raises money for wounded veterans to help them gain acess to a variety of social services, find jobs, or secure medical care after they’ve returned home. The organization is dedicated to fighting a variety of veteran specific illnesses such as PTSD and mental illness, and brain trauma.
“The statistics of veteran suicide are so high,” Woodward explained. “And especially during the pandemic, veterans are having an even harder time finding access to food, shelter, and proper medical care.
Most of the figures Woodward has created are made out of combinations of PVC piping, wired lights, and wood panels that are also hooked up to different motors and sounds in order to give his display the perfect haunted feel.
As residents come to enjoy Woodward's display on Halloween, he is asking people to spare a small donation that will go towards Wounded Warriors. Woodward has a special QR code sign—a digital code easily read by a cell phone which will lead users to the donation page—that can be used by visitors to better ensure they are following appropriate social distancing guidelines. There are also signs scattered throughout the display reminding visitors to stay six feet apart.
Those who make a donation will be given a special sanitized prize, in addition to the 100 goodie bags Woodward will be giving out throughout Halloween evening.
“Each $5 donation will get a special goodie bag with different toys and things as a ‘thank you’ for the donation and for coming out,” Woodward said. “A 5 dollar donation gets you a glow stick bracelet, a $10 donation will get a glow stick bracelet and a Halloween glow-in-the dark ball, $15 donation will get all the above plus a Halloween light up ring all in a special fabric bag, and finally the $20 donation will get everything I mentioned and a special Halloween wind up toy.”
While goodie bags and candy will only be given out on Halloween, Cheshire residents are encouraged to come and visit the display and donate to their donation page at any time.
“We are really enjoying seeing people come up. We are meeting neighbors we didn’t even know we had!” said Buffington.
Buffington and Woodward are excited to share their creation with the rest of their neighborhood and town, especially given the fact that Halloween will look very different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Its been a difficult year for everyone and we wanted to celebrate, but, be safe,” Buffington explained. “We initially weren’t sure we would do anything this year because of all the restrictions, but we found a way to work with the social distancing and are able to still celebrate.”
Woodward is already planning his display for next Halloween, which he promises will be a bigger and spookier than ever.
Woodwards WWP fundraising page can be accessed here; https://communityfundraising.woundedwarriorproject.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.personalCampaign&participantID=2872