Outfitting their home for Halloween is a longstanding tradition for Adam and Shelby Lingle, but it's not all for fun. The North Georgia couple also scare up donations for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with their outdoor decor.
The Lingle home, at 143 Ken Lane in Ringgold, is part of Skeletons for St. Jude, a nationwide fundraising effort among Halloween enthusiasts — those who decorate their homes for the spooky season and those impressed by what they see. Visitors to the Lingle home may donate to St. Jude by scanning a QR code on a sign posted in the yard or on a Facebook page devoted to the family's unique brand of eerie ambiance.
Nationally, the 2023 campaign already has surpassed its $100,000 goal — by $41,000 (and counting) — with a week to go until Halloween.
In an email, Adam Lingle said it is the third year he and Shelby, along with their sons, Finn and Caden, have participated in Skeletons for St. Jude. They signed on after seeing a Facebook challenge by North Carolina homeowner Jeff Robertson, who raised almost $8,200 in a solo effort in 2020.
In 2021, Robertson's social-media networking and a formal partnership with St. Jude resulted in 400-plus homes taking part and more than $151,000 raised. Last year saw 625 participating homes on the map and more than $371,000 raised.
The Lingles center their decor around an assortment of skeletons, including two that tower above the rest.
"It all started when my wife wanted me to get the 12-foot skeleton, Mr. Skelly," Lingle said of The Home Depot character that has become a pop-culture phenomenon since its introduction in 2020. "She fell in love with it, and now he is our main feature for our house's fundraiser."
They added a second 12-footer the next year. The mix of decor also includes a seated skeleton, dressed in a top hat and cape, driving a Victorian hearse pulled by a skeletal horse, as well as massive, menacing spiders in a glow-in-the-dark web tunnel.
"We have a range of things here at the Lingle Halloween display," he said. "There is lots to see while visiting."
The various pieces of the display fill a side yard nearest the driveway. The doomed domain is crisscrossed by red caution tape bearing a "Danger — Do Not Enter" warning.
"We started out very small, if you can believe that," Lingle said. "We started off with our 12-foots and have added one new thing each year. We try to keep it somewhat similar (in theme), but we try to grow our pieces to keep heads turning every Halloween."
The new addition this year is a dragon to guard the family's wicked witch's cave.
"He even breathes fire," Lingle said.
The overall display includes "a few jump scares for our older audience but nothing too scary, of course, for the little ones that come through," he said.
The Memphis hospital, which treats children with cancer, is a cause dear to the family's hearts year-round, Lingle said.
"We choose to share our love of Halloween this way and to help make a difference doing it," he said.
It takes "the whole month of September to get everything where we want it to be," according to Lingle.
The early effort also gives him time to replace defective lighting and put together any props the family wants to add.
Visitors are welcome to visit any night this month, though the animatronics won't be active if it's raining. The family will pass out candy 6-11 p.m. Oct. 27-28 and 31. The gravel driveway is fairly steep, so visitors should take their time driving up to park, Lingle said.
With their enthusiasm on full display, Lingle said it's easy to see how much he and Shelby love Halloween, but Oct. 31 has other significance as well.
"Yes, it is our favorite holiday," he said. "So much so we even got married on Halloween in 2020."