LEHI, Utah (KSL) – At Christmas time, Mike and June Willes’ yard in front of their Lehi, Utah home is adorned with a quarter-million lights and countless other decorations.
At Halloween, as many as 50 skeletons are deployed to spook the living who are in search of a fun neighborhood haunt for themselves and their children.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Willes’ property — which is decorated practically year-round — was suddenly in need of something of a pivot in order to help lift the spirits of passersby.
That’s when the idea came to June.
“She said, ‘Let’s change it to testing,” Mike Willes says. “We thought it was cute!”
He stood beaming in front of a display showcasing more than a dozen skeletons.
“No toilet paper?!!?” read a sign above one skeleton sitting on a toilet.
“Protect the elderly,” states another next to a skeleton with a walker.
Willes said the part of the display that generates the most attention is one skeleton standing over another resting on a table. The skeleton has a bicycle pump nearby and a hose going down into one of its lungs.
“Home-made ventilators,” that sign read.
“This is actually everybody’s favorite!” Willes said.
The couple initially didn’t know how the display would be received.
“My brother even said something like, ‘Yeah, somebody’s going to take that wrong!’” Willes said. “People enjoy it and get a kick out of it!”
Focusing on the changing displays has helped as well to bring peace of mind to Willes, who just had his own recent unexpected trip to the emergency room when a pulled tooth led to spiking blood pressure.
He has been fighting prostate cancer for years.
“There’s a lot of side effects,” he said. “I lose a lot of energy from the Lupron and that.”
The couple said that bringing joy to children and others who check out the seasonal displays makes the effort worthwhile.
“If I can make a young child smile and want to come back and see it, that makes my day,” Willes said.