When October rolled around, Jim Christopherson and his wife used to decorate their front yard with scenes right out of a horror movie: a graveyard with headstones, a witch's cauldron, jumping spiders, bats, crawling zombies, skeletons, a gargoyle. …
When October rolled around, Jim Christopherson and his wife used to decorate their front yard with scenes right out of a horror movie: a graveyard with headstones, a witch's cauldron, jumping spiders, bats, crawling zombies, skeletons, a gargoyle. Then, two years ago, they decided that they no longer wanted to frighten people with their decorations.
“There is enough division, hatred and fear in the world,” said Jim Christopherson, 53. “We were done with the scary stuff.”
Instead, the front lawn of their home on Gray Fox Court, near South University Boulevard and Quebec Street, is covered with 250 foam pumpkins, all carved by Christopherson, with intricate animations, characters and patterns. Some have popular designs: Ariel, Darth Vader, Harry Potter, Miranda Lambert, Hannibal Lecter. Others are unique: Raggedy Rita is named after Christopherson's mother. Innocence is named after his nieces and nephews.
On Friday and Saturday nights in October, the yard comes to life. Every pumpkin lights up and reveals a different pattern. Using a projector, some of the pumpkins dance and sing along to songs. The cul-de-sac also comes to life — more than 500 community members flock to Christpherson's home each night to see the show.
After hearing about the event on a Highlands Ranch Facebook page, Jolene Rheault brought her 6-year-old son, Cayden.
“He was blown away, to say the least,” Rheault said, “and the entire ride home consisted of him trying to figure out (how) he could set up the same display when he's an adult.”
Rheault was just as impressed.
“As a graphic designer, I have a deep appreciation for the time and effort that goes into creating something like this,” she said.
Christopherson carves most of his foam pumpkins in 15 minutes apiece; the complex designs take 30 minutes. He spends two weeks setting up the show — which costs about $4,000 to produce — and three days taking it down, he said.
His love for carving pumpkins started in 1997, when he bought a carving kit at King Soopers. After finishing his first pumpkin, he went back to the store for more, and he and his brother stayed up all night carving, he said. The next day, Christopherson delivered the pumpkins to Little League players that he coached.
“I was hooked,” said Christopherson. “I've carved pumpkins ever since.”
Today, he has about 1,000 pumpkins — not all are carved — that he keeps in a large storage space. Every Halloween, he transforms the exterior of his home and his wife takes care of the inside. They have 150 tubs of decorations in their basement and they each have 20 to 30 costumes.
“We just like the creativity and imagination,” he said of Halloween.
Christopherson views his pumpkin show as an opportunity for the community to come together, despite age, gender, race or religion. When asked about his favorite part of the annual extravaganza, he said:
“It's not the pumpkins at all. My favorite thing is watching families go home with big ol' smiles on their faces.”