Hollis’ Chad Zingales is a lifelong Halloween enthusiast
HOLLIS – When Chad Zingales was growing up in the 1980s, he and his brother Todd used to put on productions of “The Haunted Barn” in the family’s old colonial barn in Hollis.
Their performance was so popular that busloads of people would come from Pepperell, Mass., and other nearby towns to pay a few dollars for the experience.
All grown up now, both brothers still live in Hollis with their families, and they continue to celebrate Halloween with great enthusiasm.
Since moving to Main Street three years ago, Zingales and his wife, Cora, have gone all out to decorate their house and yard, with all sorts of spooky creatures and more than 100 hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins.
“We’re trying to revive the Main Street tradition in Hollis,” he said. “We want people to feel welcome on Main Street. It has a nice feel to it. We think of when Main Street might have had more young families.”
Zingales said friends and family members gather at his house at about 7 a.m. on an October weekend to begin decorating, and by about 5 p.m., the pumpkins are carved and ready to be put out for display.
His daughters Lila, 5, and Ellie, 3 help draw designs on some of the pumpkins that grown-ups then carve. Cora tends to make the friendlier looking jack-o’-lanterns, while her mother, Cheryl Beaudry, takes charge of the totem: a stack of seven or eight carved pumpkins in graduated sizes.
“We do it all freehand,” Zingales explained. “There’s no particular theme or crazy stenciling, which takes up too much time.”
Pumpkins can be found in assorted locations, from the front doorstep to door frames and windowsills. The yard is enclosed by a white picket fence, the perfect spot for displaying more jack-o’-lanterns and what Zingales calls “creepers,” his scarecrows topped with creepy masks.
Zingales actually collects masks, and has accumulated about 40 masks of zombies, creatures and clowns, ranging from funny to scary to downright gory. He estimates that his brother, who is older and had a head start, has about 75 masks in his collection.
On Halloween night, Zingales plays appropriate sound effects and stays home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, while Cora brings the girls around the neighborhood to collect their goodies.
“Sometimes I dress up, too, but I don’t really want to scare the kids,” he said.
Zingales spreads his love for the holiday in other ways, too. He is one of the creators of The Dark Crop, an interactive haunted corn maze held at Lavoie’s Farm on Nartoff Road. The maze features students from the Hollis Brookline High School theater department who dress in costume and interact with visitors. Unlike other spooky attractions where actors merely jump out and scare, this group improvises and converses with the audience.
He said he really enjoys the chance to share his favorite holiday with the local community.
“My family and neighbors think Hollis is a neat place to grow up and experience Halloween,” he said.