Be it ever so haunted, theres no place like home

Raleigh mans Halloween obsession leads to a cant-miss attraction

Oftentimes the high schooler who lived a sheltered life is the first to run wild in college with their initial taste of freedom.Jesse Jones, a criminal lawyer by day, can relate. He said Halloween was often overlooked in his home as a child, so now his house in Raleigh’s historic Oakwood neighborhood morphs into an epic Halloween haunt each October.”We didn’t do a big Halloween growing up and I wanted a Halloween, so that’s what started it,” Jones said. “I had no idea it would get this big and that I’d be this obsessed with it.”From countless life-sized zombies, monsters and animated creatures who jump out and bellow in the night to wiring and plugs reminiscent of Clark Griswold’s setup in “Christmas Vacation,” Jones’ display has become a Raleigh institution that draws in the masses on his favorite holiday.”There will be about 4,000 to 6,000 people at my house,” Jones said. “We will scare hundreds and hundreds of people.”The decorations are a constant work in progress, with Jones spending countless hours and untold money to set up and keep running all the props.”You’re thinking I’m crazy right now,” Jones said while looking at the ever-growing monster he has created. “If I told you how long it took me to put up you’d know I was crazy.”On Halloween Jones will be dressed in a realistic werewolf suit — his cousin is a producer on the hit TV show “The Walking Dead” and has tipped Jones off to the best places to get costumes and props — and he will enlist the help of friends and acquaintances to scare trick-or-treaters young and old who venture to the downtown curiosity.”Normally we do the scares in twos,” Jones said. “So the first one they think it’s over, then the second one it gets them. And they’re the best scares.”You’d think Jones might get some pushback from their Oakwood neighbors, but he said his annual tribute has been embraced.”At first I don’t think they [liked it], but I think they do now,” Jones said. “I think they really like it.”Jones and his wife, Sue, also host an adult-themed party each year with “some of the best costumes you’ll ever see,” he said.”It’s fun, I love Halloween and Halloween night,” she said. “The party’s great. I just think he has a lot of stuff.”The main event for Jones is Halloween night, and those who think they’re strolling up to the house for an easy addition to their bucket or pillowcase are in for a scare.Falling spiders, crashing doors and jumping bugs are just a sampling of what awaits his visitors. Jones, who played football at NC State in the late ’80s and early 90’s, even shows his Tobacco Road allegiance with some trampled Tar Heels amongst the fallen.The volume of people who will visit just means that many more scares to dish out.”The crowds get so big, it will be from my house all the way across the street, and I can’t walk in the street because it’s so crowded,” Jones said.When it’s over, the decorations come down and are moved into a 3,000-square foot storage facility at his law office. The giant dinosaur — probably 13 feet tall — can’t fit, so Jones shares it with people throughout Raleigh who will keep it for a month or two at a time.Before he knows it, it’s time to set up again, and Jones will again fill that void from his youth.And then some.