FAIRMONT - In a child-sized wedding dress and veil, fake blood streaked across her pale face, Jazyln Geerdes sat, still as a statue, beside a mechanized dummy in a coffin as she waited for trick-or-treaters to visit her home on Woodland Avenue in Fairmont.
Halloween is not to be slighted in the Geerdes' family.
"I love it," said the 8-year-old zombie bride, a grin on her face. "... I like to scare people a lot."
Jodie Geerdes and 4-year-old son Brayden, dressed as Frankensteins, stand on their front porch, looking out over the lawn of their home on Woodland Avenue in Fairmont, as Jodie tries to convince Brayden that the man dressed as Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies is actually his grandpa.
Her passion obviously runs in the family. The yard of the Geerdes' home was decked out with skeletons, skulls, witches and other stuff of Halloween lore. For three years in a row, the spooky spectacle has garnered first-place in Fairmont's annual Halloween decoration contest.
This year, the matriarch of the family, Jodie Geerdes, was a chic Frankenstein's monster, with her 4-year-old son, Brayden, a mini-Frankenstein monster, glued to her side.
Daughter Misty, 8, was an Eskimo and, later in the evening, 16-year-old Brianna was planning to join the festivities.
Even grandpa - Jodie's stepfather - was dressed up for the night, wearing a Pinhead mask that was creepy enough to scare strangers and grandchildren alike.
Missing from the oddly cheerful family scene was Steve Geerdes, husband to Jodie and father of the couple's four children. Steve passed away a little more than a year ago, but while he could not be with his family this Halloween, he was not forgotten. Parked on Woodland Avenue was a truck, its bed filling up with donated goods for local food shelves, all collected and donated in Steve Geerdes' honor.
"We're going to put Dad's name to good," Jodie said, hugging Jazlyn.
How much food they would gather remained to be seen, but lots of candy would inevitably be given away. Each child who comes to the house gets just one piece of candy, which helps keep costs down and keep track of how many trick-or-treaters come through.
In recent years, the Geerdes' house has attracted 1,000 to 1,500 children.
That's a lot of kids, a lot of candy, and a lot of money, especially for a widow, but after Steve died, friends and family donated candy, allowing the Geerdes family to continue their Halloween tradition.
"It takes a community to raise a kid," said Jodie, expressing her gratitude to everyone who helped her family have a great Halloween, and to everyone who donated food to help feed families throughout Martin County.