Nightmare on West Schuyler Place House of horrors raises funds for autistic

Although not the most famous Halloween attraction in Bayonne, the house on W. Schuyler has made its own contribution to the annual night of horrors, setting up its share of ghouls, goblins, witches and ghosts over the last eight years.

“We really started getting into things about three years ago,” said Stephen Gaeta, who along with his wife Anita, started decorating their home in late September.

Every inch of the house front has some creature of horror, most of which are animatronic. The witches move and cackle, the mad doctor lifts the top of his own head to expose his brains, the 6-foot-6 clown lifts his head off his shoulders, and a man with a machete suddenly raises the weapon as you pass near the front door.

At night, everything lights up. Eyes glow red or green as the floodlights illuminate the mists generated by the fog machine. The front lawn is a graveyard filled with the decaying shapes of strange characters, some who move, while others glare with their hideous expressions.

This year, the Gaetas decided they wanted to do something more than just give kids a thrill on Halloween – they decided to help raise funds for a good cause.

Anita, who works with Marguerite S. Baber, founder of the Simpson Baber Foundation for the Autistic, suggested that people visiting the attraction might give a little treat in the form of donations.

Currently expanding its efforts, the foundation’s Busy Bee Program has been the core of improving the lives of autistic children in the community. The program is a cooperative endeavor of the City of Bayonne, the Bayonne Board of Education, and Bayonne Medical Center,

Autism, which affects about one in every 250 children, is a nightmare for parents, Baber said, because children don’t follow the usual progression you would expect. Caught up in their own mental loop, autistic children do not develop in the natural way by learning lessons from experience, the way most children do. They can learn and develop, but this is often a time consuming and very frustrating effort.

As trick-or-treaters travel around collecting candy on Halloween, the Gaetas will have a large plastic pumpkin out on the front lawn so that guests might give something back to a good cause.

Baber said some of the funds raised will be contributed the Donna Bailey School, which Gaeta’s son, Sean, attends.

“We wanted to do something to raise awareness,” said Anita.

People seeking to find the remote location of the house may need to be aware that West Schuyler Place is at the end of North Street just off Avenue A in Bayonne. This is somewhat confusing because the unconnected Schuyler Place is only a block away. “We also take in many of the things at night,” Stephen Gaeta said. “While we leave the graveyard, most of the expensive features we bring inside later.”

email to Al Sullivan


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