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Irwin family goes all out on holiday decorations

| Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 9:25 p.m.

Dan Disso started counting down the days to Halloween in July.

Lisa Disso keeps plastic pumpkins stored in her garage that were bought 15 years ago.

Together, the Irwin couple put up a Halloween display that has brought new life to trick-or-treat night in their 10th Street neighborhood

"We started putting up the display about 3 1/2 weeks ago," Lisa Disso says. "We finally got the recognition this year. They always have the ballgames across the street and the kids and the parents they saw us out there starting to bring our stuff up and it's like 98 degrees outside and we're bringing the stuff out."

She quotes the baseball players and parents: "'Hey, there's the Halloween people, they're starting again already this year. The Halloween People! '"

Dan Disso adds, "That's just our favorite, being referred to as the Halloween People. That's a compliment to us."

The Dissos are a friendly, engaging pair who finish each other's sentences and anticipate each other's thoughts. Each 36 years old, they met through friends at a Haunted House event. They were married on Halloween, nine years ago.

"Everyone has their thing: Some women like purses and shoes, I like anything Halloween," Lisa Disso says.

While they are fans of the "Halloween" and "Scary Movie" series, and have among their possessions autographed pictures of Linda Blair from the movie "The Exorcist," their Halloween decorations and collectibles are more about the fall season than the "scary" element.

"We do find ourselves explaining to people because some people look at us like we're weird," Dan Disso says. "It's not a cultish thing; it's just a holiday thing. It's the fall, it's the decorations, it's not anything negative, it's just we love this time of year."

Christmas decorations will go up the same day the Halloween display comes down, usually in mid-November. And the pumpkin-themed display has brought smiles to the quiet neighborhood, Lisa Disso says. When they moved in four years ago, and told their neighbors of their Halloween hobby, they were warned of a lack of activity on Halloween trick-or-treat night.

"Our neighbor said 'Oh guys, you're going to be so disappointed, we only get like two kids,'" Dan Disso says. "It's kind of a dead-end street, and we're not in the hub of the neighborhood but, needless to say, our house, she thinks, draws kids. We get in excess of 70 now."

"That's big for us," Lisa Disso says.

"Really big," Dan adds. "We'd like to take credit for that because they said they've never had that before and now we get tons of kids."

Their two children, Nieko, 6, and Gianna, 3, won the best costume category at the Irwin parade last year, as Gomez and Morticia, characters in the classic Addams Family television show.

The couple won't say what their children will appear as this year.

"I can't tell you that,' Lisa Disso says.

"We don't even tell our parents that," Dan adds.

Trick-or-treat night is 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31 in Irwin.

Love of fall

The kid-friendly display outside is but a taste of the total Disso collection, some of it lighting up the inside of their home. The couple collects Department 56 Halloween items -- everything from castles and houses to pumpkins and trees -- after purchasing their first castle nine years ago. That castle cost $120 is now worth $800," Lisa Disso says.

But she also will tell you that their Halloween fascination is not about the investment, or decorations, exactly, nor the collectibles, nor the scary movies. It's more about the time of year, she says.

"Because everything is starting to slow down for the winter time. It's a time to enjoy the inside of your home. That's when you start to smell the warm apple pie," she says.

"It gives me a good feeling because I remember being a kid and it was when my mom and I got to spend time together and now, I like that for my kids because we get to cuddle up and it's warm and cozy and the nights are crisp.

"It's just been like, in here, that feeling that you get ..." Lisa says, as she taps her chest, lightly.

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