Just two days after an unprecedented storm hit the Eastern Shore, Berlin, MD is getting ready for another kind of big event: Halloween. Trick-or-Treat is on as scheduled for 5 -7 pm tonight, despite the fact that clean-up efforts are still ongoing in many local communities. For Berlin residents and the families who visit from other areas just to treat-or-treat, it’s a welcome distraction and a way to move on from the emotional roller coaster of the past few days. For local Washington Street resident Sara Hambury, it’s also tradition.


“Our thoughts are, you don’t celebrate Christmas on a different day,” said Hambury earlier today, as she was preparing her home's elaborate Halloween display.

Hambury’s Washington Street address puts her smack dab in the middle of Berlin’s Halloween hub. Thousands of children descend on Washington Street each year because the residents go above and beyond. These houses aren’t just a few lights and a pumpkin or two. This year alone, trick-or-treaters will see scenes from Caddyshack, The Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters, and possibly The Jetsons—it’s a movie theme this year. In year’s past there have been toga parties, a circus theme featuring side show freaks and clowns, a western theme, and they’ve taken visitors to various islands filled with pirates; last year was a trip back in time to different decades.

The now established tradition began about five years ago when a number of the street’s residents all unknowingly dressed up as super heroes.

“The kids loved it, so we just went with,” explained Pam Green, while standing on the yellow brick road she had just put in place at her home.

Now, they all sit around a bonfire sometime in late August and come up with the official theme. It’s worth noting that the town, while supportive (they’ve agreed to block off the street this year), doesn’t help out with the expense or the manpower that it takes to construct these displays. And it can get pricy.

Hambury, who has a trashcan filled with candy, says she spends between $300 and $400 just on candy alone.

“Two years ago we ran out of candy at 6pm and my nine-year-old nephew came back from trick-or-treating and dumped his bag of candy in the bin for the other kids,” recalled Hambury.

It’s typical for the Hamburys to run out of 1200 pieces of candy – and that’s only giving out one per child – which lends a clue as to the amount of kids who visit each year. Just around the bend from Washington St., on Jefferson St., the Kings, who own a store on the boardwalk, hand out 800 individual cotton candies they make themselves, until they run out.

Back on Washington St., the transformation of these homes into the Halloween masterpieces they become takes a lot of time and preparation. And while the residents start planning the theme in August, and most of the big decorations don’t go up until Halloween morning, Sandy’s arrival made this year’s preparation extra difficult.

“Everybody is just mentally exhausted from this hurricane. Our efforts were focused somewhere else—on the storm of the century,” explained Hambury.

Today, Hambury is focused on the very big job of making her two-story house bring the Ghostbusters movie to life. A Stay Puft Marshmallow Man keeps watch on the porch roof, caution tape reflects the ghostly dangers that lurk beyond; each member of the family has a ghostbuster’s suit and jetpack, including son Hayden, and daughter Opal. Hambury herself is going as Sigourney Weaver’s character, in an 80’s dress she made herself. The effort is admirable; this year even more so.  

“I think that parents just need to rally and do it for the kids. Kids don’t know about property damage,” explained Hambury.

Tonight, trick-or-treaters will see firsthand the efforts of these residents who rallied to bring the Halloween spirit to thousands in Berlin, MD.

To see more photos, check out the gallery below…

Photos by Ami Reist.