Saint-Lazare resident Scott Trainor is a self-described Halloween fanatic.
For a month now, he and his fiancée Ariana Pisano have been intricately crafting a massive, spooky display inside three tempos on the front lawn of their home.
Each tempo represents a different, scary zone. Each has moving mannequins that speak. Zombie babies, a creepy scarecrow, and a small child imprisoned by a demon are just a few of the horrifying attractions.
There’s a sanitizing station at the beginning and only one family is allowed in at a time. All the mechanical parts are triggered by remote control, meaning the families are alone inside.
“There’s no doors, there’s no coverings or anything. There’s nothing that needs to be touched,” Trainor said.
At the end, candy is given from a distance down a chute. Trainor says all the candy is quarantined for over a week before being given out.
Five thousand dollars and a week’s worth of work later, Saturday night was the debut. There was a lineup down the street.
“We received over 300 people,” said Trainor.
“When we were there, everyone had their masks on. We kept our distance, they kept their distance,” said neighbour Kim Shephard, who attended the launch and gave rave reviews.
At the end of the night, however, police showed up. Saint-Lazare is part of the Monteregie, which is in the COVID-19 red zone.
“Gatherings (including those surrounding the Halloween party) are prohibited in regions at the maximum alert level (red), whether outdoors or indoors. Outdoor meetings in a public place, such as a park, are also prohibited,” said Quebec Health Ministry spokesperson Robert Maranda when asked about the police intervention at the Saint-Lazare Halloween display.
“They told us that because it is a tempo, it is considered a gathering. Even on Halloween night, because it’s a tempo, it’s indoors for them and that we will be fined next weekend if we do it again,” Trainor said of his interaction with police officers.
Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Catherine Bernard confirmed to Global News officers gave Trainor a warning, and said police will intervene if the display attracts crowds again.
Trainor argues his front lawn was never the scene of a gathering, because all but one family at a time were always on the street.
“I don’t personally see a danger right now, especially when you comparing to going to a retailer, going to school or anywhere else,” he said. “You can put 40 kids in a school bus with no problem, but walking through a tempo on somebody’s front yard is dangerous.”
Neighbour Freddy Vincelli, who helped create the display, agrees with Trainor, and compared the experience to going to a store.
“Big box stores will be the same. You’re going to sanitize your hands, you’re going to walk around, you’re going to buy your stuff and come out. So over here, it’s the same kind of thing,” Vincelli said.
Not everyone in the community is on board. Some residents who did not want to appear on camera said, though the display is well made, they did not appreciate how it attracted throngs of people from other neighbourhoods to the street. They also said some did not appear to be socially distancing while waiting in line.
Even with the risk of getting a $1,000 ticket, Trainor says he will open the display on Halloween.
“We’re definitely going to do it again. I’ll pay the fine. It’s about the kids right now. It’s about mental health, and we’re going to keep going,” he said.
Trainor claims community members have already offered to help him pay any ticket he receives.