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Can Halloween decorations be too scary?

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:57 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Many people decorate their yards for Halloween. Some go all-out. But the question others are asking is, when does a decoration cross the line?

It’s a topic that people on both sides get very passionate about, especially after last year’s celebrations were limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this edition of WTOC Asked & Answered, the question we’re answering is: can you stop someone from putting up a display you find offensive?

There are many creative Halloween decorations up around our area, especially on Wilmington Island. But one in the Old Towne neighborhood has garnered attention for years. Hundreds of people of all ages flock to see the gory display. But one neighbor believes it goes too far.

“I think blood and guts crosses the line,” said neighbor Frank Unger.

Unger said the display - featuring blood, guts, and a whole lot more - isn’t appropriate for children. Unger has twin 4th-graders. Unger added that the traffic the display brings to the neighborhood presents a safety hazard for everyone.

“Nobody wants to speak up and say, “oh, I wish they didn’t have the bloody torsos and the giant bloody hooks.”” Unger said. “There’s even Satan.”

Unger said he reached out to his neighborhood’s HOA, but hasn’t heard back.

The display belongs to Susan Mason and her husband, Don.

“This is the first time we’ve had anybody say they have a problem with our yard,” Susan Mason said.

This is the Mason’s eighth year doing the big Halloween display. They said it’s something they take pride in. Known around town as the “hell house,” a couple dozen neighbors showed up to support them Thursday.

Mason thinks people who don’t like it should simply look the other way.

“I don’t know what to tell him,” Mason said. “It is gory, it is. But it still gets tons of people here. And they like it!”

So, are there any regulations for these kinds of displays? WTOC Investigates looked through Savannah’s city codes. We found no regulations related to home decorations. Meaning, unless you have a homeowner’s association that’s willing to step-in, your yard is your domain.

If you don’t like someone’s display... the city suggests talking to your neighbor about it, directly.

Until then, the debate rages on.

“There’s tons of creative displays here where people are having a blast with lights,” Unger said. “But this is ridiculous and unnecessary.”

Mason said, the display isn’t going anywhere.

“As long as the police aren’t showing up and saying we have to shut it down, this is horrible, scary that it’s offending everybody... then I don’t see why we’d have to,” Mason said. “And we haven’t.”

We also reached-out to the Old Towne neighborhood HOA, but haven’t heard back.

The Mason’s say they plan to keep doing their display for the next few years, and that they may even take it up a notch going forward.

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