Plano’s Deerfield neighborhood has its famed Christmas light display, but come October 31, a different neighborhood becomes the Halloween epicenter of Plano. Canterbury Court in the River Bend neighborhood, an otherwise quiet cul-de-sac next to Plano Senior High School transforms into an elaborate display of Halloween decoration ingenuity, where the street shuts down to vehicular traffic and the whole block becomes an outdoor party.
The Halloween tradition began in 1983, a year after Enrique and Ann Valdes moved into the River Bend neighborhood, off Independence Drive and Park Blvd. Many of River Bend’s homes were built by the popular custom home builder J. Stiles Homes in the 1970s and 1980s. Through the years, the Valdes family has built everything from a 35-foot Titanic replica and giant Star Wars stormtroopers to a haunted pirate ship and members of the Justice League. Others on the cul-de-sac including Nick Derington caught the Halloween spirit, decorating his yard with his own often-homemade themed decor including a lifesize T-Rex and Ghostbusters‘ StayPuft marshmallow man.
That’s the unique thing here. Nearly everything you see in these yards is lovingly crafted by these homeowners, who begin planning in the summer and start construction in September. One of those neighbors are John and Liz Goudreau. Through the years, the Goudreaus have decorated their front yard with themes like the Blair Witch Project, Sleepy Hollow, Jaws, and Nightmare Before Christmas. And seriously, look at this King Kong.
The Goudreaus have diligently documented their Halloween display on their blog JohnGoudreau.com since 1994. From last year’s Alien movie theme to their very first hand-painted wooden stand-up superheroes in 1994, in which they cut out arm holes to hand out candy, the blog documents the behind-the-scenes schematics of how these decorations are built.
For instance, the Goudreaus explain how they created the marquee Alien sign with glow-in-the-dark paint and green LED rope lights, which outline the black lighting bar across the top and green laser-projected stars. The alien eggs are actually four-foot balloons that are duct-taped to form oblong egg shapes, papier mâchéd, and painted to add depth and texture.
Think you get a lot of Trick-or-Treaters? Homes on Canterbury Court get up to 2,000 little ghosts and goblins in one night. The street party draws so much Trick-or-Treat traffic away from the rest of the River Bend neighborhood, that neighbors donate their candy to the Canterbury houses.
The celebration has grown so large, Plano Police close down the street to drive-through traffic, so neighbors park blocks away or walk over to Canterbury, Trick-or-Treating the other elaborately decorated homes on the way. That’s where you’ll meet Annabelle, the swinging little girl singing a chilling little tune.
Neighborhood visitors may park across Independence Pkwy at Plano Senior High. The event is free and open to the public.