Langleys create Halloween palace

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Leann Langley and her husband aren’t scared of Halloween. For the past 12 years, their ghoulish display of lights, black cats and pumpkins have ushered in the last day of October in southern Alabaster.

Today, more than 40 strands of lights illuminate the couple’s front yard, 65 pumpkins dot the property and a massive pair of cat eyes peer at visitors from inside the house.

“Every shrub in the yard is covered in lights,” Langley said. “This is a unique year, because my son got married last weekend, and we brought home 65 pumpkins from that and put them around the shrubbery in the yard. I also have cats in all the windows.”

Every year, the Langleys begin decorating the inside and outside of their house for Halloween in late August or early September.

When they are done rummaging through the thousands of Halloween items filling their attic, the couple sorts through the boxes and pulls out enough items to decorate the front of the house and nearly every square inch of a couple of the interior rooms.

Walking through the front door reveals a plethora of ceramic decorations, a Zultan figure and goblins. About 75 dishes of candy dot the tables throughout the house, which help serve the more than 350 young trick-or-treaters the Langleys usually see every Halloween.

“We allow the kids to take one piece of candy from each dish, and nobody over 12 gets candy,” Langley said. “We try to make it little kid-oriented.”

Because the house has been drawing a crowd of Halloween aficionados for more than a decade, the Langleys have developed a loyal band of followers who visit them every year.

“The people who come for the first time will come in with their kids and we will give them a tour of everything and kind of point them in the right direction,” Langley said. “The ones that have been there before will come straight in, say hello and make a right turn when they come through the door.”

The couple’s house stemmed from one of Leann Langley’s childhood traditions, and she has been collecting items to fill her house for many years.

“I just love Halloween. It’s just fun,” she said. “When I was a kid, I had an aunt that always gave me a seasonal present, and my Halloween present was always my favorite.

“Most of the Halloween things I got from her I still have displayed,” she added. “I still have a favorite ghost that she gave me.”

Since the Langleys’ house became a local phenomenon, many Shelby County residents have donated items to help them decorate each year. Someone recently gave Leann a set of antique ceramics.

The couple usually employs a group of family and friends to help out around the house during the frantic trick-or-treat event.

“We have a lot of people in the house to help the kids get the candy and see everything,” Langley said. “The whole family comes, and everyone has to dress up at least a little bit.

“But after Halloween, when it’s time to clean up, there’s not a relative to be found,” she added with a laugh.

Because the house draws several hundred parents and children every year, the Langleys usually draw a little ire from their neighbors, Leann joked.

“It makes it tough on the neighbors, because they are not expecting 400 trick-or-treaters. It kind of creates a massive traffic jam,” she said. “And my husband, bless his heart, is relatively patient with me.

“It really is a fun time,” she added.