For the Toufos family, October is the most wonderful time of the year.
Husband and wife Gus and Mariella — residents of College Point for 10 years — look forward to decking out their home for Halloween every year.
“It’s a tradition that started with my parents in Astoria,” Gus Toufos said. “As long as I remember — going back 30 years — my father and mother do a lot of Christmas displays. They get really into it. They’ve been collecting moving dolls for about 40 years.”
Applying knowledge from his professional background in construction, Toufos creates original, animatronic characters that can’t be found anywhere else.
“Basically a lot of foam; a lot of zip ties,” joked Toufos.
Using PVC piping, wiper and car motors and various connectors and cables, Toufos creates uniquely eerie moving displays. This year, a sinister prison inmate on an electric chair is the feature.
Most nights, passers-by will be greeted with the spine-chilling theme music from the horror film “Halloween,” but as the days progress toward the holiday, Toufos likes to change it up, looping in some scary sound effects like chimes and screeching.
Toufos does get help from two other important people: his children, Gus Jr. and Paul.
“I leave it up to my kids,” Toufos said. “They designed the whole electric guy, the little munchkin monsters. They love it.”
“[Mariella’s] the one who says, ‘That needs to go a little bit to the left,’” joked Toufos.
“He has such great ideas, I kind of just leave it up to him,” Mariella Toufos continued. “He’ll start in September getting things together. We all love Halloween and basically he’s the one who really got us into it.”
Mariella explained that her husband often finds inspiration for his decorations in his family’s previously worn Halloween costumes.
“He’ll hold onto our costumes and put something together from them,” she said. “A lot of the outfits they’re wearing, they’re actually costumes we’ve used in the past.”
“When we first moved into the neighborhood, there really weren’t any decorations in the neighborhood,” Mariella continued. “Now, people will stop us in the supermarket and say, ‘You’re those people with the decorated house on the corner!’ It’s like, ‘Oh wow, people actually do notice!’”
The Toufos family’s spooky home can be found at the corner of 21st Avenue and 123rd Street in College Point.