ELYRIA, Ohio — A spooky scene at the corner of Abbe and Alexander in Elyria has been a neighborhood staple for more than two decades. The engineer behind the eeriness was Bob Haas. Bob died earlier this year from COVID-19. His neighbors have stepped in to help his family carry on its holiday tradition.
"This was his big hobby and past time. It's collected a lot of memories for a lot of people," said Shannon Sumner Haas.
Bob, a Lorain firefighter, dedicated himself to serving his community. "He was a great guy in the neighborhood, always willing to help somebody out," said Dan Troglin.
The annual display is a fun extension of that commitment. "It took us 11 or 12 days of constant work," said Sumner Haas. However, this year, getting this ghoulish graveyard up fell solely on Bob’s wife, Shannon.
"He was 16 days on a ventilator," said Sumner Haas.
Bob died from COVID-19 on Aug. 26.
"It's a blessing in disguise in some ways, because he really didn't know how sick he was," said Sumner Haas.
Bob’s death came just about a month before he typically starts transforming his yard.
"He was just a great guy, and this is what he loved to do, and everybody knew that he loved to do it," said Tammy Troglin.
Troglin, along with her husband, Dan, rallied their neighbors to get Bob's beloved tradition back on the block for Shannon and her family.
"The boys did most of the work, but I was the pointer. She has a 10-year-old son, and I want to make sure that Adam still had this in his life," said Troglin.
With no blueprint, Shannon and her neighbors used pictures, along with their collective memories to put everything in place in a single day.
"We're all walking around like this. Well, he used to have this over here, he used to have that over there," said Dan Troglin.
To make sure the magic Bob created continues beyond this Halloween, a handful of neighbors will take their favorite pieces and display them in their yards next year so the Shadow Valley Cemetery and the memory of the man who created it lives on.
The display will go all the way down the street.
"All his creations, everything he made, and all of us thinking about him at the same time," said Dan Troglin.
For Shannon, this gesture goes well beyond the ghouls and goblins outside her home.
"It was basically the completion of the message that they've been giving me from the beginning, which was that they weren't going to let me fall through the cracks. I can never tell them how thankful I am," said Sumner Haas.