Five ghosts named Moe? They’d be right at home in Oak Forest
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent October 25, 2012 8:02PM
The Oak Forest home of Jose and Alicia Rivera, as decorated for Halloween in 2011. | Supplied photo
If you go
What: Moe’s Graveyard
Where: 6961 W. 156th Place, Oak Forest
When: Dusk until midnight through Wednesday
Updated: November 29, 2012 6:04AM
Jose Rivera never outgrew his love of Halloween. But when the Oak Forest resident outgrew his favorite part of the haunted holiday, he threw himself into a new role.
“When I got too old for trick-or-treating, I found out it was more fun to scare the trick-or-treaters,” Rivera said.
Each October for the past 25 years, Rivera has indulged his passion for all things Halloween, creating “Moe’s Graveyard” with hundreds of gruesome and ghoulish decorations, indoors and out, at 6961 W. 156th Place.
Rivera treats it as if he’s staging a Hollywood production.
“It’s all in how you lay it out and how you set the scene,” he said. “Lighting is everything.”
The setup has grown significantly over the years, Rivera said, and it now spills beyond the boundaries of his front yard.
Spreading out was not a problem in 1997 when he and his wife, Alicia, moved into one of the first homes in Oak Forest’s Bramblewood subdivision, with empty lots on either side. Fortunately, when the Riveras did get neighbors, they also got lucky.
“I’ve got the greatest neighbors in the world. They let me use part of their yards for this every year,” Rivera said.
He needs every bit of space he can get. When Rivera empties his backyard 12-foot-by-20-foot storage shed (with a loft), he unleashes what easily amounts to thousands of dollars worth of Halloween decorations.
“It’s an investment, no doubt, but it’s done over a period of years,” Rivera said.
The investment is well-protected with several security cameras, Rivera said, although the gruesome graveyard scene should be enough to put off anyone with mischievous tendencies.
Rivera said he tries to complete the project within seven to 10 days, with his wife’s help, if the weather cooperates.
“Wind and rain are not our friends,” he said on a particularly wet and blustery weekend afternoon.
Rivera’s free time is at a premium. When he is not working at his Tinley Park business, J.A.R. Industrial Sales, or playing in the band he founded 25 years ago, “Five Guys Named Moe,” he is busy setting up dozens of motion-activated devices, life-size dummies, yards of fake spider webs, multiple strobe lights, coffins and their contents, and headstones, all adding to the atmosphere of an eerie graveyard.
Rivera’s favorite effect comes from a fog machine and overhead mechanized “things that go bump in the night.”
“From the street, it gives the illusion of flying ghosts,” Rivera said. “I’ve had the whole cul-de-sac in fog before. It’s cool.”
Rivera said he doesn’t go through it all just because he is “nuts for Halloween,” but also “for the kids and the community.”
“The community’s been awesome,” Rivera said. “If there have been complaints, it’s news to me.”
In addition to weekly visitors, the Riveras said about 100 cars drive by each night during the week of Halloween. About 300 trick-or-treaters show up on the big day.
“We give out about 75 pounds of candy,” Alicia Rivera said, admitting that although her husband “has a sickness” when it comes to Halloween, it’s become a happy tradition.
“It’s great. Everyone enjoys it,” she said.
For the Riveras, “Moe’s Graveyard” is not a passive display on Halloween night. A group of friends join them in full ghoulish costume to jump out at unsuspecting guests touring the site.
“If anyone gets terrified, we take off our masks so they can see who we are,” Rivera said.
Chuckling, Rivera said some kids “trick-or-treat by proxy,” too overwhelmed to come to the door themselves.
It’s all in ghoulish good fun, from the vultures on the rooftop to the kiddy “pumpkin patch” in the back yard.
Rivera plans to keep it that way “until I just can’t do it anymore,” he said.
“There’s a lot to see, and you never see all of it,” Rivera said. “It gets better every year.”