WEST HARTFORD -– Every family has a different way of celebrating different holidays, and “different” might be the best way to describe the annual Halloween display at the Warshauer family’s house in West Hartford.
Every year they choose a theme that’s typically more political than it is scary.
“You can't really drive by this and not go, ‘Huh?’ and so because of that it sort of forces people to contend with it a little bit,” said Matt Warshauer, a Central Connecticut State University history professor.
This year, Warshauer and his daughters created a display to commemorate the 50th anniversary of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
The giant display spreads from their North Main Street home onto their neighbor’s lawn and is made mostly of cardboard. The combination of Halloween and history includes a replica of a Huey helicopter crash landing, along with skeleton soldiers and skeleton Vietnamese villagers in a bamboo hut.
Above the display is a sign asking, “What have we learned of war beyond the need to support our troops?”
Warshauer says he hopes it gets people thinking.
“We've got the challenge of why do we go to war? But we've also got the challenge of what do we do for our veterans once we come back from war?” said Warshauer.
As far as getting people’s attention, it’s definitely working. Warshauer’s daughter, Samantha, says it’s sparked a lot of conversation.
“My room is right there so I’m the one who sees all the cars slow down and see the people walking by and taking pictures,” said Samantha Warshauer, a high school freshman.
Matt Warshauer said, “It is designed to provoke a response and I would hope that even if people don't like it they're provoked to think about why they don't like it.”
The final piece of the display is their own version of the actual Vietnam War Memorial, which replicates the one in Washington. They’re planning on inviting the community to write names of war veterans on the wall, adding one more layer of meaning to the display that will all disappear on November 1.
Samantha said, “All public art eventually has to come down, but that doesn't mean we're going to forget the names on the wall.”