LACEY – What began as a childhood dream has become a local sensation, bringing out scores of people for a good cause.
Lacey resident Donald Bucci, 47, had always wanted to go all out for Halloween because he never really had the opportunity as a child. He vowed that when he had his own house, he would have a big Halloween display.
Fast forward to 2019. Bucci has not only achieved his dream of having the spookiest, best-decorated house on the block, but he has given his mission meaning by doubling his Halloween house as a donation drive for the local food bank.
What is now recognized around town as the “Dee Road Cemetery,” located at 1560 Dee Road in Forked River, started out as just your average house adorned with some tombstones and frightening fixtures.
“Each year it gets a little bigger and a little more intricate,” Bucci told Jersey Shore Online.
Bucci’s yard is decked out in handcrafted tombstones, fencing, and a gateway while his garage is transformed into a haunted mansion.
Preparation for the display begins in August as the decorations are “brought back to life,” so to speak. The set up takes place about the second or third week of September and remains up until Halloween.
As the Dee Road Cemetery became the biggest Halloween display in Lacey over time, Bucci had a thought: “Let’s attach it to a good cause.”
People can drive or stop by, leaving canned goods or nonperishable food item donations in the bin out front destined for the Lacey Food Bank. Bucci noted that people have been coming from all over to take pictures and video of his “spook-tacular” exhibit.
He has already collected about four huge garbage bags full of donations, for which the Lacey Food Bank is “very thankful.”
“They love it,” he said. The food bank volunteers admitted to Bucci that the collection bin is always a little low this time of year, before things ramp up near Thanksgiving. So they are especially grateful to have a steady flow of food items coming in.
Now that the Halloween season is in full swing, Bucci is seeing larger crowds flock to his haunt. He noted that on Friday, Oct. 4, over 100 people came out.
Despite the heightened traffic, Bucci says that his neighbors don’t mind. In fact, they help.
“My neighbors to the left, Frank and Linda, they help,” and another neighbor even helped him get in contact with the Lacey Food Bank to set up the donation drive, he explained.
Some of the neighborhood kids will also be pitching in on October 25 for the Dee Road Cemetery finale: “Food Fright.” Bucci said that the neighborhood kids plan to don costumes as zombies, ghouls and ghosts and haunt the graveyard for one last Halloween scare. During Food Fright, donations will also be collected.
And Bucci’s love of Halloween isn’t just his own. His daughters, 10-year old Gabriella and 7-year old Charlotte also have a passion for all things spooky.
“We’re a full-blooded Halloween house,” Bucci proudly affirmed.
The Bucci family also hosts a yearly Halloween party that, like the cemetery, has grown over time.
Last year’s event drew between 175-200 people, Bucci said.
“This [the idea for the Dee Road cemetery] came from that,” he added.
If you wish to catch a glimpse of the scary spectacle, you can do so at 1560 Dee Road. The cemetery is open from 7-11 p.m. every day, weather permitting, said Bucci. All are welcome.