Dartmouth Haunted Yard Will Get You in the Spooky Spirit This Year
Grace Botelho has lived at 39 Azalea Drive in Dartmouth for eight years. About three years ago, she started decorating for Halloween. No jack-o-lanterns here, but you’ll find hundreds of elaborate decorations, animatronics, and lights. This walk-through haunt is sure to get you in the spooky spirit this Halloween.
“It didn’t start out this big at first,” Botelho said. “As soon as we saw more people moving to the street with kids, that’s when it started to grow. I just loved seeing them laugh and get excited over it.”
Botelho starts setting up the display at the beginning of September so it can be done in time by October. This month-long labor of love includes unpacking the decorations, lights, and animatronics from storage and carrying them out to the tents that her husband, Leonardo sets up for her to work.
“It is a lot of hard work to pull this off,” Botelho said. “I have so many bruises, scratches, and back pain all month from lifting everything and getting things arranged the way they need to be. Then I have to pack everything up and put them away when Halloween is over.”
Not only does Botelho put all her physical strength into the display each year, but her mental space too.
“If I go to the store or go online and find a prop that I like, I think about what scene I can create for that piece,” Botelho said. “I’ll buy something a year in advance so I know what I want that scene to look like and have time to buy everything for next year.”
What makes Botelho’s display so interesting is her attention to detail. You may have to visit more than once in order to catch every little thing. When it comes to her lights, she makes sure that colors aren't repeated too closely together to add contrast. And each prop scene has its own designated color for a theme. For example, vampires are always purple or black.
Botelho isn’t one to ask for anything when her birthday comes around each year, but she had one special request for her husband last year.
“Whenever I went to Six Flags with the kids, I always had to take a picture with the guillotine,” Botelho said. “I knew someday I wanted to have one of my own for the display, but the only one I could find on Craigslist was too expensive and three hours away. So, I asked Leonardo to build me one for my birthday in August last year. It’s amazing and I love it!”
Now that guillotine is one of her favorite pieces in the display. She wants everyone in the area to come and take a picture with it along with everything else in the haunted yard.
“Please come and take all the pictures and videos you want,” said Botelho. “People drive by and don’t know that they can walk through the yard and come right up to the porch, but that’s one of the best parts. The old lady in the rocking chair with the grandpa are two of my favorite animatronics and they’re waiting for visitors!”
Botelho’s hard work pays off with her display drawing so many people to get a glimpse of it each October. Most people come on the weekends, but you can visit every night from 6 to 10 pm. She did want to remind everyone that they cannot block the neighbor’s driveways and to respect the decorations.
“I started to do this for fun and it makes the kids happy,” Botelho said. “I love when people come and to see the kids laughing. I do it for love. I just want people to see it and be happy.”
Botelho said that he can’t pick her favorite piece from the display, but the old witch was her first animatronic purchase and she still has a soft spot for her.