Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 30, 2000

Getting ready for Halloween is an all-out effort for Sue Kegler

By Ryan Gueningsman

For many years, people have stopped at a big blue house on Andy Avenue in Winsted, on Halloween night to be greeted by spooky and sometimes, downright ghastly things.

All kids who enter love to see the 30 to 35 interestingly carved pumpkins, the dancing skeletons, and the foggy cemetery setting that awaits them on the front porch of the Steven and Sue Kegler residence.

The Halloween scene is the result of days of preparation.Kegler Halloween scene

Weeks, even months before Oct. 31, Sue Kegler is busy at her sewing machine, hand-sewing close to 20 costumes a year.

"I kind of started making my costumes when Larry Neumann was the director of the school plays at Holy Trinity," said Sue. "I remember doing 'Annie Get Your Gun' and 'Cinderella.'"

Sue has also made baptismal gowns for religious ceremonies, but said that anything to do with Halloween is her favorite.

"I just love Halloween," Sue said. "I mean, when else can you dress up as someone or something you dream to be, and go out and get something you aren't supposed to have (candy) except on Halloween night? I think that's what makes the whole night so special.

"The only bad thing is that after a few hours, it's all over with. I wish they would start earlier in the night, even in the afternoon, so it could last longer."

"I love to sew and make costumes, as well," continued Sue. "When people ask me for a costume, but aren't sure what they want, they usually end up being a clown ­ especially the littlest kids. Clowns are so vibrant with their bright colors, and I always use the brightest striped material I can find."

Sue said she will have 17 costumes made by Halloween night this year, with one of them even being shipped as far away as California.

She added that she gets requests from all over the area, including families from Annandale and Cokato, as well as Winsted.

"One of my favorite costumes I've made was for a little boy who was really shy and quiet," said Sue. "This boy was so shy we had to go outside to take measurements ­ he didn't want to go through our porch because it was all decorated.

"His costume was a Teenage-Mutant Ninja Turtle, which had many parts to it, knee pieces, elbow pieces, and it just took a lot of work to make. On Halloween night that year, his mother took him to a costume contest in Howard Lake where he won first place.

"He came back to my house and ran through the porch and gave me a huge hug. He was so excited, and screaming, 'I won! I won!' That is what it's all about, right there."

While Halloween might just be one night, it is definitely a big deal at the Kegler household.

"All of my kids are coming home this year for it and my grandson gets to trick-or-treat in Winsted for the first time," said Sue.

"Halloween is just such a cool night and it really involves the community in so many ways. We get to open up our homes to these kids and the whole night is so much fun.

"Sometimes, the littlest kids get scared by all the lights, fog, and the strange sounds, so then, we have to bring the candy outside to them," said Sue. "We always let the kids take as much candy as they want, and for the past few years, it hasn't been just candy. We've given out Halloween pencils, coloring books, rings, and WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets."

Steve said that if they keep adding new decorations each year, he'll have to build a special shed just for Halloween stuff.

Sue confesses to taking a look at everything the night before Halloween and thinking, "Does it look too gaudy?"

According to Sue's daughter, she needn't worry.

"No, Mom, gaudy is good!" her daughter reassured her.


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