Emmanuel “Manny” Vasquez has worked hard all year in preparation for the Halloween season. Moving to Calhoun from Dalton in April, he knew that this first holiday season in Calhoun, beginning with Halloween, would be important establishing his family in the community.
Vasquez, a cardiovascular specialist at Cartersville Medical Center, grew up poor in South Texas. He was actually sometimes homeless and dreamed of having a nice home he could decorate.
After graduating high school and college, he moved to Dalton, where he bought a home and became the envy of the neighborhood, decorating his home for each holiday in thousands of lights, inflatables and electronic decor that he continues to add to today at his new home in Calhoun, in Meadowbrook Subdivision, off of Curtis Parkway near the Calhoun City Schools Complex. Vasquez, along with his wife, Ketta and his teenage son, Kenneth, is dedicated to decorating the same way he did while living in Dalton. Not only does he decorate, but he is available to give tours of his top-of-the-line Halloween displays.
“It started off with the Christmas lights (when we lived in Dalton), because I’m a Christmas baby,” said Vasquez. “Being Hispanic and Catholic, Christmas has always been a big part of family and celebration. So moving here from South Texas, I saw that there was really not much of the (big display of) Christmas lights in my neighborhood, the only time I could see lights was when we would go to Rock City. I thought it would be pretty cool if I had a bunch of lights around my neighborhood. It started a little bit here and there, and every year, it grew bigger to where I ended up having a large light display and some of the neighbors ended up doing light displays, too.”
Vasquez says light displays are the perfect way to get to know neighbors and the community.
“We all tried to outdo each other,” said Vasquez. “And that brought us closer as a community. You know how a lot of people don’t know their neighbors? This brought people around. We started walking around the neighborhood to look at other people’s lights, and began talking to our neighbors and getting to know them. We started to take care of each other as a community. Everyone had a sense of community and closeness, and little things like this is what makes a difference.”
Thanks to his display, Vasquez is beginning to meet new neighbors in his subdivision
“Around my new neighborhood, I’ve met new neighbors because I’m outside in my yard, always decorating,” said Vasquez. “I have different themes throughout the year, like St. Patrick’s Day, when our house is green. Ultimately, we kind of overdo it during Halloween and Christmas.”
Vasquez is very cautious and uses the utmost in safety precautions for his display. “It started off with a couple of lights; now, everything is LED and they are a lot safer now,” said Vasquez. “Whenever we talk to our neighbors, I always try to throw in there the important stuff, like having respect for electricity. I work at a hospital, and I’ve seen the results of when a house burns where something was not done right. You have to be careful with what you do: don’t use improper wires, you always have to have the correct installation. Having a lot of these lights can really pull a draw on your electrical system. A lot of people that don’t know how to do it will just assume one wire or cord will take care of everything and that’s not the case. You have to have it planned out and evenly distributed.”
Vasquez’s light display has something for those young and old.
“One side is kind of creepy and the other side is kid-friendly,” said Vasquez. “I try to incorporate a little bit of both for everyone, especially during Halloween. I even dress-up in costume, kid-friendly, of course. I want everyone to have a good time. They can come over and take pictures with the decorations and inflatables. My house is always a welcoming place.”
Now that Kenneth is old enough, he helps his dad out with the display each and every holiday.
“My son used to think we were going over the top,” said Vasquez. “Being a teenager, he was always afraid it’d attract (negative) attention and he didn’t like it much at first. But then when kids began talking at school about our house, he came around. He’d request for me to do new things, so much so that when we now go over to the Halloween store, he’s the one that picks out all the decorations and plans where it needs to go. I’m old-fashioned and like the lights and some inflatables; he’s the one that picks out the more tech-driven decorations, the things that talk and move.”
Vasquez’s wife Ketta enjoys that her husband is so committed to the decorations.
“My wife knows this is my outlet, my sanctuary,” said Vasquez. “My job is very demanding, so when she sees me out in the yard, she sees me more at ease and knows it keeps me sane. It’s kind of like working on my garden. It’s something I enjoy doing and it keeps my mind busy.”
Vasquez will keep his Halloween decor up until trick-or-treating ends on Halloween night. “Right on Halloween night, everything comes down except the lights,” said Vasquez. “We change the lights out to orange and brown for Thanksgiving, and we put a couple of inflatables turkey’s on each side of the house. As soon as we have our Thanksgiving dinner, whoever is at the house, we all go outside and we start decorating for Christmas. It’s a continuous family affair.”
Visit the Vasquez house in Meadowbrook Subdivision, off of Curtis Parkway in Calhoun, to see the house in full decoration through Halloween night, Oct. 31. The Vasquez’s will be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters throughout the evening.