When Tammy Beard first had the idea to adorn her family home with intricate Halloween displays, it was under less-than-ideal circumstances. While on a family vacation to the North Carolina coast after the 2018 death of her mother, Beard found herself in a rut and eager to give back to her community. On that day, she discovered a home decorated with every manner of ghoulish gags and thought to herself: “That would make people smile,” says Beard.
Before returning home from vacation, Beard had already ordered some skeletons and began imagining the displays she would create. Thus, the Ferry Farm Skeletons were born.
The Falmouth resident, who owns Yellow Cab Prince William County — a taxi service she inherited from her father in 2004 — loves and collects classic cars and waxes poetic about her five children and 13 grandchildren every chance she gets. She constructs the displays of skeletons in her free time. And, sometimes a classic car or motorcycle from her collection appears with them.
The crafting project is a mammoth undertaking that requires a collection of life-size skeleton figures, a couple of 12-foot-tall skeletons, and gobs of lighthearted costumes.
The displays take hours to devise and construct and are built around a theme — one for each week in October — with the skeletons changing position daily.
In previous years, the displays were torn down and reset daily. But this fall, after one of her grandchildren left for college, Beard decided to pull back and reset the displays just once a week.
Beard is eager to point out that, like the family business, the Ferry Farm Skeletons are a family affair. Everyone pitches in. Even the neighbor kids occasionally volunteer to help with the setup.
In the five years the skeletons have peppered her Pendleton Road front yard, she has reused a theme only three times.
Her skeletons have even started appearing on other holidays, like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.
And they mimic the energy of Ferry Farm Elementary School, which sits across the street. Beard says she keeps up with school events and so do the skeletons. For example, she’s arranged them to look like they were participating in a school fun run. And in the heart of 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, Beard brought out the skeletons to celebrate graduation for the students. She decorated the skeletons with the colors of every Stafford County high school.
To kick off this Halloween season, Beard arranged the Ferry Farm Skeletons to look like they were growing from the ground, with one of the skeletal figures dressed as a farmer. The following week, she had the skeletons riding down a zip line, and the next week, they looked like a scene from Mario Kart. For the final week of October, the theme will be the Addams Family.
While the planning and construction takes a lot of time, Beard says she undertakes the labor of love because she loves seeing people smile. “It’s kind of taken on a life of its own, and it’s just so much fun to see people’s faces.” 11 Pendleton Rd., Falmouth
Feature image courtesy Ferry Farm Skeletons
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