Incredible Raleigh Halloween display is an ode to honor 9-year-old killed in ATV crash

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Dennis Winegard has been keeping a secret for years. Only his close friends and neighbors know.

It's the reason behind why Winegard goes above and beyond to create an elaborate Halloween display in his front yard every single year.

This year, Winegard decided it was time to tell his story.

He started with a post on the social media app, Nextdoor.com.

"I put a post that kind of blew up," Winegard said, "Now they're coming in from all kinds of other communities."

Night after night, starting weeks before Halloween, people drive by to see what looks like a Halloween carnival: Huge blow up characters, smoke and lights.

Visitors are all wearing masks and being socially distant. Plus, Winegard, a retired general contractor turned handyman, installed a big hand sanitizer station. He even built a ghoulish zipline to safely deliver candy to the kids.

"I peek at them sometimes from where they can't see me, and I get tears," Winegard said. "It's very meaningful for me right now."

He hesitates.

"When I see the kids and moms dancing and their faces are in awe, then I know he's looking down and saying, 'Good job dad; I'm proud of you,'" Winegard's voice cracks. "That's what drives me."

Winegard's son, Dennis Winegard Jr. died 18 years ago in an ATV accident. He was just 9-years-old.

"My son was killed instantly, and his friend, his friend died on the flight for life."

Winegard feels fortunate to have moved to Dawnalia Court, a quaint cul de sac in the Woodlawn subdivision of north Raleigh. He and his other son, Chance, are part of a family of neighbors.

"We are a family," neighbor Jessica Popp said. "We all hang out; we love decorating for Halloween."

Popp and her husband, Jim, go above and beyond to decorate their home two doors down from Winegard's. One day, they hope all their neighbors join in on the fun.

This year, for the first time, Winegard has prominently displayed his late son's framed photographs among the Halloween decorations. It makes perfect sense, since Dennis Jr. was born on Halloween.

"I light up my house in a way that can be seen from Heaven," Winegard said., "I want him to look down and say 'I'm proud of you dad.'"
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