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Sharing spooky spirit

by: Vern Uyetake, Mike and his wife Chris Holmstedt, shown below, take a break from decorating their front porch on the corner of 4th Street and C Avenue.

The Holmstedt's front porch is the entrance to their home, sure, but also a tunnel into their hearts.

Belonging to Mike and his wife Chris, the home on the corner of 4th Street and C Avenue in the First Addition neighborhood of Lake Oswego is a mini-museum. With each new season or celebration come new decorations.

And Halloween this year is no exception.

'We had kids, four kids between us and then grand kids came along and we never stopped decorating,' Chris said.

Each October, festive Halloween witches, skeletons, goblins and cats are placed in new arrangements on their porch because Chris said, 'we can never remember where we put stuff before.'

Mike said they decorate their front yard in phases and it takes several days.

'We like to call it a work in progress,' Mike said. 'We do a lot of decorating with our grand kids.'

Leading up to holidays, the couple shops at garage sales, Goodwill - where Chris said there are 'great deals' on holiday items - and nearby shops.

'I buy stuff all year long when I see it. Rite Aid,' Chris said of the store down the street, 'saves (Halloween) stuff for me when it's on sale. They'll call me.'

All the preparation work is fun, they said, and rewarding when they look outside and see people stopping to admire their work.

'The other day a child was just staring at our porch,' Chris said of the little boy walking with a parent. 'So, I went outside and gave 'em a few little pumpkins. What a smile.'

Chris said that throughout the year they will find notes on their front porch from people in the community, thanking them for their festive decorating.

'(Mike will) be outside and people will stop to say, 'I love your flowers,'' Chris said. 'Or, I'll be inside and look out and see kids trying on the (Halloween) masks.'

The Holmstedt's have a large painting of their front porch in summertime hanging within the family room; so, even when they're inside they can admire the area that makes them proud.

With just over a week until Halloween night, the couple is gearing up for another batch of about 125 kids, like last year. That means Chris is preparing her usual goodie-bags and perfecting her witch costume.

'It's fun. You get to know everybody from year to year. I love seeing all the kids' smiles,' Chris said. 'There's a lot of kids that make a special trip to come here. We recognize kids year to year.'

The Holmstedt's said they try to be accommodating to local families on Halloween night.

'I'm always ready by 5 p.m. so kids don't have to be out really late,' Chris said.

If you visit and hear a witches' cackle, it might be Chris passing out candy - or Mike. After living in their home for 10 years the couple said their small front porch has been a great way to get to know the community.

One cat decoration near the front door changes outfits for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and every celebration in between.

So are they done decorating this year?

Not yet.

And their living room is filled with Christmas decorations to sort.

'I'd love to have a big wrap-around porch,' Chris said. 'I'd just go nuts.'