After a year or two of lackluster Halloween decorations at Tom Selitto’s Pen Argyl home, his neighbors started pushing him about it.
“I put up some decorations out front when COVID happened,” said Selitto, a Halloween enthusiast who shares his birthday with the annual Spooky Night, and was known for his intricate October displays. . “I had a few skeletons in chairs. In fact, neighbors came to me asking what happened to my screen.
“So this year I went big.”
“Great” is an understatement. Selitto set up a massive display at his borough house in the 900 block of Glass Street, consisting of more than 60 skeletons, including a 12ft handful, life-size musicians and a battle scene, at least one skeleton miniature on horseback a pink flamingo, a smoke dragon and an imposing dinosaur. At night, lights, lasers and fog machines give the display a healthy dose of spookiness.
It’s for a good cause – Selitto is one of hundreds of residents across the United States raising funds this Halloween through Skeletons for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“If you’re going to put on a Halloween exhibit, you might as well do it for a cause and get some good out of it,” Selitto said. “Every child should be able to go out and enjoy Halloween.”
Starting in 2020 with a home in North Carolina to give disease-fighting kids the chance to experience Halloween safely during the pandemic, Skeletons for St. Jude has caught on quickly. Over 500 households have registered to participate this year and as of Thursday, over $92,000 has been raised. Selitto is one of the few Lehigh Valley residents to participate.
Since the campaign began, more than $252,000 has been raised for the Pediatric Cancer Research Center in Memphis, Tennessee. The hospital’s mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. Families do not have to pay for treatment, travel, accommodation or food.
This is the first year that Selitto has participated in fundraising. He decided to participate because he wanted to help children experience Halloween.
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“It doesn’t cost anyone more than to get a sign and put it in your yard,” Selitto said. “And that’s all you really have to do. Set up a small display and you can be a part of it and help the kids out.
Besides his fondness for all things Halloween, Selitto said he also had a personal connection to the effort. His brother has special needs, he said, and volunteering with Special Olympics is an annual family event.
The exhibition is a family effort, he said.
“My grandchildren come and they help me do the exhibit, and some of the neighborhood kids,” he said. “It’s good.”
Although Selitto’s courtyard may seem at capacity for spooky decorations, there are already plans to expand it, adding more skeletons to the drudgery.
“It grows every year,” he said. “I don’t have a very big yard. I joke with my neighbor that they might move into his yard at some point.
Morning Call reporter Molly Bilinski can be reached at [email protected].