Just a little creeped out

Published 9:55 pm Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yes, they’re real.

The three coffins, placed strategically among the shrubbery around David and Tracie Sheffield’s house in Nansemond Shores, are very real.

But don’t panic — neither the bloody leg atop one of the caskets nor the rat gnawing on it is real.

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Creepy yard art is rampant in the front yard of the family’s brick rancher at 2625 South Nansemond Drive, keeping alive a holiday decorating tradition for this Halloween-loving North Suffolk family.

Vultures dangle from the branches of the pine towering over the house. A decrepit mummy is lounging underneath the tree; nearby, a family of ghouls hangs from an iron plant stand.

Random body parts protrude from the ground, while overhead, a cloaked skeleton is waiting for an unsuspecting victim to wander past and trigger the sensor that will send it crashing down.

“We like getting into Halloween,” said Andrew Sheffield, 20, one of the couple’s sons. “Especially my dad.”

Though there are still a couple of weeks to go before the bewitching holiday, the Sheffields and a couple of friends spent several hours Sunday decking out their yard. While the family usually buys a few new ghoulish decorations every year at post-Halloween sales, the newest acquisition of the caskets should make their yard a favorite haunt among local trick-or-treaters this year.

The family inherited the coffins from a neighbor’s brother, who used them to decorate his own home, Sheffield said. During the summer, the burial vaults were kept behind a shed in the back yard.

The yard has gotten second — and sometimes third looks — from curious passersby.

“Neighbors who were walking by (as we decorated) stopped to talk about it,” said Sheffield.

The yard is spectacularly gruesome now.

But on Halloween night, he and a few friends plan to ramp up the creep factor with a few extra effects: playing special music, popping out of the coffins as people approach the door, and possibly even creating a walk-through haunted house in the family’s RV trailer.

While the family has fun with Halloween décor, they try to be mindful of the young people in the neighborhood.

“We have a lot of odd things,” Sheffield said. “But my parents don’t like to scare people too much … and we get a lot of children through here.”