SIDNEY — Sidney resident Dave Johnson took Halloween decorating to the next level with his creation of a nickelodeon theatre replica on his front porch.
Johnson, 709 S. Miami Ave., has lived in Sidney for two and a half years, along with his girlfriend, Renee, and their four-year-old daughter, Rachel. He said his love for the holiday has spanned much of his life.
“Everyone loves Christmas,” Johnson said. “But, Halloween has always been more fun.
“When you decorate for Christmas, it has to look nice,” he continued. “Whereas with Halloween, the more ragged the decorations, the better the aesthetic and the more ‘haunted house’ feel you get.”
Johnson said that while he always decorates, he took it to a new level this year.
“Usually, we go for the more silly, shock-y sort of thing,” he said. “This year was very different, so we couldn’t use any of the props or decorations we’ve used before.”
Johnson said this year’s nickelodeon theatre theme took months of preparation—beginning in July, with a completion date of Sept. 30 — and more money than he’d like to think about. He said the idea came from his long-time love of film, and an experience he had as a child.
“I’ve been in (a nickelodeon theatre) before,” he said. “I have that memory as a kid being in Chicago.
“That was long before I was ever interested in film, but it just struck me a certain way. I guess this is an attempt to chase down that memory.”
Set-up began with the painting of the front porch. Johnson first put down a coat of gray paint, followed by a classic black-and-white checkered pattern, providing a vintage feel to the installation.
From there, Johnson added the decorations. This included a hand-painted “nickelodeon” sign, a ticket booth staffed by a friendly skeleton, movie poster signs—advertising Häxan (1922) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)—framed by lights, an antique-style side-hanging wall clock, and a red carpet.
“I wanted it to be like you’re stepping into a whole world when you walk up,” he said.
The main attraction is in the home’s front window. Johnson said he “got a good deal” on a quality video projector, which he bought specifically for this occasion, and with which he projects horror films from the German expressionist era on a black sheet taking up the entirety of the large window.
He said he’s showing a total of about 10 movies, keeping them on shuffle and repeat so that they play continuously throughout the evenings.
Johnson said the response from neighbors has been positive.
“I’ve gotten a ton of compliments about how cool and different it looks,” he said.
Johnson said he will keep the theatre up and running for about another week or so before taking it down and transitioning to Christmas.
“With the amount of time and money we put into this, I’d like to have it up as long as possible,” he said.
Ideas for next year are already being thrown around. In past years, Johnson said he has used more grisly horror themes.
“I’m leaning more toward doing something a little more natural,” he said. “Maybe the Celtic origin of Halloween, or the witch trials.
“We don’t want to go back to being gory, but more so unnerving.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.