Dover couple hooked on Halloween

The Dover home of Rick Grier and DJ Lopez features a graveyard in the backyard and Halloween decorations in every room.

For Rick Grier and D.J. Lopez, decorating for Halloween was a “slow burn.”

“You start out with one or two things, and then, the next thing you know, you have six, and it grows from there,” said Mr. Lopez.

And after 24 years of living in their house in the Edgehill section of Dover, Halloween is celebrated everywhere — both inside and out. This year’s newest addition is a Halloween tree.

The married couple, both 51 years old and born within a few days of each other, are crazy about Halloween, which this year will be marked in a bit more subdued way Saturday.

Every room of their house has a reminder of the spooky season, from figures to ornaments to globes to lights.

Mr. Grier shows off the new Halloween tree he owns with his husband Mr. Lopez.

“For Christmas, I’m a big Hallmark collector. That’s where we started collecting ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ ornaments, and then, we realized that we had so many ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ ornaments, that we could really start a Halloween tree,” Mr. Lopez said.

“And the next thing you know, we started a Halloween tree. And a lot of the Hallmark ornaments are from Thanksgiving and Snoopy and Charlie Brown from Halloween. So it’s just been a lot of accruing and amassing and building.”

Mr. Grier said the seven trees they put up for Christmas brought on the idea of the Halloween tree.

“(The trees) are themed because of all of the ornament collections. That’s what spawned ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ tree,” he said.

“The ornament collection came out in July, and they came out with four new ornaments this year. So I figured we definitely have enough. So I started planning in July. In August, I bought the orange tree, and then, a little bit later, this #Halloweentree trend came out. So I was just like, ‘For once, I’m ahead of the game.’”

He even had a friend make the spiderweb snowflake that the character of Jack Skellington is holding because he couldn’t find a tree topper that he liked.

With Mr. Grier growing up in both Wilmington and Elsmere and Mr. Lopez born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, they both loved Halloween as kids.

“Ever since I was very young, I always hated that the Halloween costumes had the name of who they were in front of them,” Mr. Grier said.

“And so at an early age, I started making my own costumes. I have a box of costumes in my attic from probably high school. When my daughter came around, she wanted a whole set of costumes and Dad to make them. So Dad made them.”

For Mr. Lopez growing up in Wyoming, it was more of the spectacle of the whole thing.

“Fortunately, where I grew up, it was going to people’s houses. I remember a few houses on the street were over the top. And those kind of experiences still stick with me today around Halloween. I remember the porches were decorated, the yards were decorated, and so that’s what I also wanted to do, is to just have this kind of over-the-top Halloween, so kids can experience it the way I did,” he said.

They said they start the decorating process in September — right down to the Halloween shower curtain in the bathroom.

“It takes us from the middle of September to have everything up and going by Oct. 1,” Mr. Lopez said.

Their decorations do attract a crowd.

Rick Grier and DJ Lopez have been decorating their Dover home for Halloween ever since they bought the home 24 years ago.

“As the times have changed and as the decorations grew outside, more and more started to come, and now, it’s other neighbors, as well, out decorating, which makes it nice. For the longest time, it was just our house, and that was it,” Mr. Grier said.

“If we’re out in the front yard working on the lawn or if we have the dog out front, cars will stop and roll down the window and yell, ‘Cool decorations,’” Mr. Lopez said.

“We just had an Amazon order come through, and she yelled, ‘I love the decorations.”

They are both into the scary aspects of Halloween, as well. Big fans of the Universal monster movies, they have been visitors to the Eastern State Penitentiary near Philadelphia, which hosts an annual haunted event. They also frequent the Rehoboth Beach Sea Witch Festival.

Of course, this year, those events were canceled, and Halloween will be a bit low-key.

“We are (saddened). But it was kind of expected. It was like a whole year that wasn’t, and so why would this be any different? But at the same time, I’m not gonna stop decorating because of it,” Mr. Grier said.

‘Mischief Managed’

In the spirit of ending mischief and keeping the kids safely at home this year, Dover’s Johnson Victrola Museum will present the historical-theater presentation, “Mischief Managed: Throwing a Hotsy-Totsy Halloween Bash,” today at 6 p.m. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the program will be streamed live via Zoom.

Created as the ultimate 1927 guide to throwing the perfect Halloween party, “Mischief Managed” will include a costume-making demonstration, suggested party games, recommendations for the perfect 1920s foods for entertaining and advice for the perfect treats to give out to trick-or-treaters in 1927. The program will be accompanied by 78-rpm recordings of Halloween-related music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines.

The event is free and open to the first 100 registrants. Viewers must register for the program by signing up at

For additional information, contact the Johnson Victrola Museum at or 739-3262.

‘Shakespeare, Poe & Fiends’

Delaware Shakespeare invites audiences to join the group outdoors Sunday for tales of spirits, mystery and hauntings, as the company reimagines its annual fall tradition in a new, evocative setting at historic Fort Christina.

Delaware Shakespeare will mark Year Nine of its Bard-Edgar Allan Poe pairing, now known as “Shakespeare, Poe & Fiends.”

The tales take on a different context this year, due to the multilayered history of Fort Christina. Delaware Shakespeare will be joined by Adam DePaul, storykeeper of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, who were living in the area before Swedish settlers arrived. Mr. DePaul will share a traditional telling of a Lenape myth.

Del Shakes Associate Artist Newton Buchanan is working with the Quaker Hill Preservation Foundation to develop a moment of local oral history from the Underground Railroad, which likely had a stop along the river rocks at Fort Christina.

In addition, violinist Amanda Robinson will supply an autumnal musical atmosphere. A volunteer from the Kalmar Nyckel will be on hand to answer questions on the site history.

Poe’s “The Raven” will be featured, as will the short story, “The Masque of the Red Death.” On the Shakespeare side, audiences will be treated to the murderous couple of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Guests can purchase a timed admission slot, and then, choose their path throughout Fort Christina, where they will find actors with readings of six different stories, all of which can be heard in just over an hour. All audience members must wear masks, and there will be space at each story location to maintain physical distance.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for youth under 18. For more information (including COVID-19 precautions) and tickets, visit

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the horror movie, “Come Play.”