Bucky, an adorable Corgi with a perpetual smile, weaves around a make-believe graveyard where skeletons and ghosts are enjoying a picnic.
Cornhole and volleyball are being played.
Skeletons are making s’mores around a campfire and a band is keeping everyone entertained with spooky hits.
It’s all part of Diane and Brad Smith’s over-the-top Halloween display.
“We’ve been decorating our house since we moved in,” says Diane.
“We’ve been doing this for over 20 years,” says Brad. “It all started with a ghost, and he’s still in the tree.”
Brad chuckles as he looks up. “His name is Charlie,” he says. “He started this whole thing. Charlie is family.”
Here is a full walkthrough of the haunted house:
The Smith’s decorations started small, but it has grown to a spectacular display people come to see every year.
Diane says age and health issues made it difficult to continue the tradition a few years ago.
“Since we’ve been getting a little older and my son went away to college, we’ve been needing a little help to put everything up.”
It turns out, help wasn’t hard to find.
“They mentioned one time they might need some help doing some Halloween lights and I thought it would be a fun activity for the students, so here we are.”
Just like that, a new tradition was born.
The students rolled in on a school bus around 8:15 a.m. and got right to work like a well oiled machine.
“This type of stuff gets everyone closer together,” says student Elizabeth Quintana.
“Everybody enjoys it,” says classmate Casey Kabisch.
“Everybody is happy and participating. We get a kick out of it.”
Diane marvels as she watches what looks like a caravan of kids toting boxes of bones and skulls up the stairs from the basement.
“It used to take us all month to put up the decorations,” she says. “It’s only been an hour-and-a-half since they’ve been here, and practically everything is up.”
“We just tell them what theme we want and let them run with it.”
We love their creativity!”
New this year, a band is playing on the porch as groupies hang out on the roof above and a few skeletons snuggle up next to the bar.
“We kind of get a little crazy,” says Diane with a laugh.
Right in the middle of it all is Bucky.
The pint sized, loveable Corgi is built low to the ground and keeps an eye on everything.
“He’s the supervisor,” says Diane. “He’s the most trained and well behaved guy. He just sits there and watches everything and makes sure the other two are in their place.”
The ‘other two’ are Dumdum and Monty.
They’re just as cute as Bucky, but a little more energetic, shall we say.
All three are named after the Howling Commandos from Captain America.
“They get a lot of love on Halloween too,” says Diane. “A lot of kids forget all about the candy and just want to pet the dogs.”
The atmosphere is filled with laughter and giggles as students work together.
Sounds of a power drill humming along and a hammer pounding stakes in the ground make it feel like a construction site.
“It’s kind of lighthearted,” says Capps. “I get to joke with the kids a little bit and have fun.”
“He’s awesome,” says student Hudson McNeal. “He’s my favorite teacher I’ve ever had.”
“We’re very hands on,” says Quintana. “That’s what a lot of people like. They like to get out and not be in the typical classroom environment.”
“I like being able to help people,” says McNeal. “Having a tradition that goes on every year and just being able to help with that is awesome.”
“It’s why we do it,” says Brad Smith with joy in his eyes. “They just seem to enjoy it and have fun doing it with us.”
Diane nods in agreement. “I’m just so appreciative of the Career Academy kids and teachers. They’ve just been so nice and so helpful and we love that they come to help us.”
“I think we did a good job,” says Casey Kabisch as the students get ready to board the bus. “Everybody put in their effort.”
An understatement if there ever was one, and a big reason why this story is Positively Fort Wayne.
The Smith’s Halloween display is in the Copper Hill neighborhood off Covington Road.