By Lee Francis, Mike Waldron and William Lineberry
RICHMOND — William Wagner’s Hanover Avenue home came with its own unique sort of baggage: Halloween decorations.
Wagner’s block in the Fan neighborhood becomes Halloween-central every year, drawing hordes of candy-starved goblins, ghosts and ghouls.
“Neighbors warn new residents, ‘Did they tell you about Halloween?’” Wagner said. “Many residents, when they sell their houses, will leave their decorations for the next group coming.”
The celebration has become such a Fan tradition, that the city actually blocks off Hanover Avenue from the 1900 block down to Strawberry Street. But Wagner said the party really starts about three blocks before the barricade, as thousands fill the central Fan neighborhood.
“[It’s] an incredible mass of people,” Wagner said.
This will be Wagner’s third Halloween on Hanover Avenue. In previous years, he’s seen a heavy volume of trick-or-treaters. This year’s “All Hallow’s Eve” falls on a Thursday, and Wagner said the buzz around the neighborhood is that it could be a busy one.
“I stop giving out candy at about 2,000, and that normally is before 8 o’clock, so it could be upwards of 3,000 or 4,000,” he said. “What I understand is that as it gets closer to the weekend it gets crazier.”
Monday night, Jimmy and Chantal Thompson were busy turning their front stoop into a haunted forest in preparation for Oct. 31. They weren’t alone. Along the Fan thoroughfare, front porches were decked out with orange lights, spider webs and witches.
While weaving foliage into a spooky canopy, the Thompsons described the annual festivities as “crazy and fun,” pointing out that the neighborhood is perfect for the annual spooky celebration.
Two-year residents of Hanover Avenue, the Thompsons are also relative newcomers to the neighborhood’s infamous Halloween celebration. But they, like Wagner, knew what they were getting into.
“When the realtors sold us our home, they said Halloween was part of the deal,” Jimmy Thompson said.