FAIRFAX — When trick-or-treaters stop at Beth and Steve Melchior’s house Halloween night, they won’t get any candy.
They won’t be frightened by ghosts, either.
But, they’re guaranteed to have a great time in the garage, decorated as a "Pirates of the Caribbean" ship, as 338 kids who stopped last year would attest.
For example, check in at the Melchior garage and you get three tickets to redeem for three prizes — bead necklaces, games, crafts, light sabers, plush animals, toy cars, even plastic vuvuzelas, the horns made famous at soccer matches.
"The kids get enough candy," says Steve. "You’d be surprised how long they shop." Then, he laughs. "Some of them will take a half-hour. We can have kids here for an hour. They’re trading."
"I’d still be out trick-or-treating," Beth laughs, "if there wasn’t an age limit."
Beth and Steve, 46 and 47, are still kids at heart. They graduated from LaSalle High School in Cedar Rapids, celebrated their 20th anniversary this year and have become successful. He owns Home Choice Senior Care in Marion and she has Mod Salon-Spa in Cedar Rapids. Their children, Ava, 8, and Dane, 6, keep them young.
But, it was Beth’s sister and husband, Amy and Greg Stewart, who live a couple of streets over that started this Halloween tradition. They’d had similar events in Indiana and held one in Fairfax after they moved here. Because their kids are out of the house, Amy told Beth it was her turn.
Beth and Steve hosted about 180 kids that first year, in 2010. Last year it nearly doubled.
"Word got out in Fairfax," Beth says, adding they expect even more kids from Fairfax this Halloween eve.
The first theme was pirates, the second one a haunted mansion and this year was supposed to be super heroes. But, it’s back to pirates.
"We had to recycle," Beth says, "because we’re so busy with the Holy Family’s Beanapalooza."
That’s a bean bag tourney, auctions, raffles and celebration on Nov. 3 to help fund technology needs for St. Jude, St. Ludmila, and La Salle Catholic schools.
The Melchiors foot the bill for their trick-or-treat garage, from the elaborate decorations to the prizes, with help from Beth’s sister and assistance from volunteers.
"The money is worth it," Steve says. "It’s for the kids. This is an awesome neighborhood."
Volunteers help decorate, hand out tickets and monitor the prize shopping. Big helpers have been their kids and their friends and parents, Kyleigh, 8, and Brady, 6, Kruse and their parents, Carrie and Dusty, from Atkins."We’ve always loved Halloween," Beth says. "It was our favorite holiday."