Every October neighbors start to notice stirrings at the green house on the corner in the South Bexley neighborhood.
To the fright of some -- and the delight of many -- a parade of children and adults gathered Oct. 31 at the corner of Montrose Avenue and Charles Street to gawk in amazement. The "Clown House," as it is known, is growing into a Bexley Halloween tradition.
And every year, Ian Garriott and his wife, Cherie, do just a little more to decorate for Bexley's trick-or-treaters. More than 900 were expected to visit this year.
What guests saw was a clown twitching in an electric chair. As people came up the sidewalk to get candy, they triggered a box containing a clown to slightly open and then slam. There were clowns peeking through the curtains of the second-floor windows. And this year, a huge web with spiders was on the side of the house.
Then, there are people and dummies dressed up as scary clowns. Ian Garriott was among the live ones who mingled with visitors, dressed as a clown holding a clown doll.
Cherie Garriott, dressed as a garden gnome, was a friendlier presence as she smiled while handing out candy, helping to take an edge off the scary proceedings.
"Someone here has to be happy," she said.
The Garriott family moved into the South Bexley house about 10 years ago and started their annual display their first Halloween there. Ian Garriott is a captain with the Columbus Division of Fire who works at Station 20 at Cassady and East Fifth avenues.
Every year, one of the fire trucks drops by in between calls. The crowds have grown so much that a part of Charles Street is blocked off.
One of the creepy clowns offered Bexley police officer Joe Chapman, who was on Halloween bicycle patrol, a bite of green goo being advertised as "cotton candy."
"It's a little toxic. I'm not going to eat that," Chapman quipped.
Dawn Heideman, a teacher, compliments the Garriotts for what they do. She said it draws a diverse crowd that mixes well.
"You have a free haunted house in South Bexley. Everybody knows about the house," Heideman said. "This is a different way of serving the community."
Karon Taylor, who lives on the East Side, brought her two granddaughters to visit. She said she has come annually for the last eight years.
"It gets better and better every year," she said.