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Batty for Halloween

An Oxford family delights in the Halloween decor that bedecks their North Lamar home, inside and out.

Written by Eugene Stockstill

Photographed by Joe Worthem

A few years ago, a rather unnerving thing happened while Ann Chancellor Roberson of Oxford was preparing for Halloween.

The physician, wife of a physician and mother of three had gotten up around 4 one morning to get things all set for the holiday. There she was in a black T-shirt and black leggings, hanging in darkness from a banister so she could put giant spiders on the outside of the house, when she noticed some unexpected company down the street.

“Some of the city police pulled up,” she said. “They were curious why this person was hanging from the banister.”

They all had a good laugh about it before the officers left Roberson to finish her important work for the morning, which she’d begun after realizing she was behind schedule for Halloween that particular year.

Normally, the house is decorated by the first of October, “just to enjoy it for the whole month,” she said. The process takes three to four hours, and the decorations are a little different every year. “That’s the fun part, adding new things,” Roberson said. “I decorate the inside of the house, as well.”

Roberson and her family, who moved to Oxford several years ago, live in a traditional three-story Southern house on North Lamar. The residence, painted white with black trim, has a wrap-around porch and sits on property that once belonged to the people who lived next door.

“I’ve always been told the man who designed Central Park (in New York City) designed the house next door,” she said. “That may be a rumor.”

The Robersons tore down the old house on the site and built a new one in less than two years. Once settled in the house, they also settled into the neighborhood tradition of going all out at the spooky end of October.

“Oxford, in general, really embraces Halloween,” Roberson said. “All of the houses on North Lamar have fun. The first year, we went wild, and my kids loved it.”

This year, if you traipse through the Roberson yard, expect huge spider webs, 8-foot arachnids and maybe a zombie hiding around a corner. It’s not the only house nearby that goes batty for Halloween.

“All these houses do a phenomenal job,” she said, recalling a South Lamar home that became “almost a haunted house experience” one year, complete with smoke, ghosts and other ghoulish things.

“I loved Halloween as a kid and dressing up, pretending you’re something that you’re not,” said Roberson, who dressed up as Elvira last year. Now, Halloween turns into a family-wide event that includes her daughters, ages 10, 11 and 15. When the girls were younger, “they enjoyed it so much, (decorating) was something I tried to do early in the morning,” Roberson said. “Now that they’ve gotten older, they’ve transitioned into helpers.”

On Oct. 31, whole families go trick-or-treating up and down the street. Roberson has been known to put on a pot of chili for visitors. Every year, she said, she goes through 3,000 to 5,000 pieces of candy.

“It brings a lot of friends and families together,” she said. “It really is a very magical experience.”

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