Halloween spirit made from scratch

Published 11:24 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

A Suffolk firefighter went all-out for his family to make sure Halloween this year was one to remember.

Joey Tabor, 29, is a Virginia Beach Naval Air Station Oceana firefighter EMT, and a volunteer firefighter and EMT for the Driver Volunteer Fire Department in Suffolk.

Tabor said the profession runs in his family. His father, Malcolm Glenn Tabor, retired from Virginia Beach Fire Department after more than 30 years of service and is now an instructor for Spec Rescue International.

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Naturally, his daughter, Leah Tabor, 2, wanted to dress up as a firefighter for Halloween, along with his stepsister Katherine Eberwine McIntosh’s 2-year-old daughter, Madelyn McIntosh. His stepsister’s husband, Cody McIntosh, is a Chuckatuck volunteer firefighter.

Eberwine McIntosh, 30, suggested making a simple fire truck for them, like a frame for a Radio Flyer wagon, she said.

Tabor grew up making things in his grandfather’s full-fledged workshop and was more than up to the task, he said.

“Having many years of building things in there with him breathing me over my shoulder telling me I’m doing it wrong, I learned to do it right, finally,” he joked.

But what started on Oct. 1 as a five-day project for a small, wooden cart turned into a 30-day process for something much grander, he said.

With a fire truck cab made from 2-by-4 planks, lawnmower wheels and levers for steering, Tabor expanded with an accompanying trailer. He added lights powered by a lawnmower battery, a pond pump with a garden hose attachment, and even a working ladder made from rungs of PVC pipes, a threaded rod and drawer rollers for cabinets, he said.

He built his own suspension system and space for a baby carrier to accommodate a friend’s child, Katherine Eberwine McIntosh said.

“We just kept hearing that it was getting bigger and bigger,” she said.

Tabor said it took him five or six days to paint the 16-foot-long, four-and-half-foot-tall Halloween ride, and two trailer trips to transport it to the Rivercliff neighborhood off Kings Highway in time for trick-or-treating on Tuesday.

Katherine Eberwine McIntosh said the girls and other children were ready to go.

“They were fighting over who was going to drive,” she said.

Tabor also designed a logo for the Halloween creation in honor of the girls.

“It was called “trouble fire department,” ‘cause these girls are hellions,” he joked.

The girls rode in the firetruck along with his girlfriend Brittany Milteer’s son Addison Gurganus, all of them dressed in their best firefighter costumes. Tabor described the shock and awe from neighbors as an entourage followed the truck.

“The neighborhood couldn’t believe it,” he said. “People were coming out of their houses because the lights were so bright that they thought there was a real firetruck coming down the road.”

Katherine Eberwine McIntosh said people were overjoyed. She described the whole experience as a throwback to how people used to celebrate Halloween with creativity and handiwork.

Like many others, she was impressed by her stepbrother’s creation.

“I told him he should have been an engineer,” she joked.