Iconic Grand Forks Halloween house aims to make holiday more inclusive

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 5:31 PM CDT
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GRAND FORKS N.D. (Valley News Live) - After sitting on the sidelines for the last two years due to COVID-19, a popular Grand Forks Halloween house is opening its door back up to trick-or-treaters. They say this year they’re expecting nearly 5,000 kids to ring the doorbell. You read that right; 5,000.

‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is the theme this year outside Kelly Nelson’s home. Each character is handmade by Nelson herself.

“This is my 25th year! Isn’t that nuts? 25 years,” Nelson smiled.

Inside Nelson’s home is more like Santa’s workshop as Nelson continues packing goodie bags.

“Right now, not including those, I have 2,995 (finished bags)” Nelson said.

All of those are waiting to be given to the hundreds of trick-or-treaters expected at her doorstep next Monday. It’s the first time Nelson has welcomed costumed kids since 2019 after COVID-19 de-railed the holiday in 2020 and 2021.

Nelson says she’s excited to welcome families back to her home off of 18th Ave. S. and Cherry St. She says this year she’s ditching the candy and instead is giving Teal Pumpkin treats.

“We’ve got pencils, we have play packs with coloring books and all that,” Nelson said as she combed through one of her overflowing totes of completed goodie bags.

Nelson says the move comes in an effort to make Halloween more inclusive, as she says so many kids suffer with food allergies now, including one of her grandsons.

“You don’t have to worry about I’ve got a purple pumpkin for autism or a blue pumpkin for food allergies. With this it doesn’t matter,” Nelson said.

She says this will also be the first year all seven of her grandkids will be fully involved in the Halloween fun at her home.

“It’s so exciting! Usually we pull out a few characters in the yard and then real people go in, and this year it’s going to be my grandkids!” Nelson smiled.

Nelson says she’s been buying crafts and knick-knacks for her goodie bags for months. She says Halloween is one of her favorite holidays because, at least for a day, the noise from the real world is blocked out by joy and laughter of little ghouls, princesses and superheroes walking the neighborhoods. She adds she’s happy her home can add to that happiness in the community every year, and says she’s not sure when she’ll end her long-standing tradition.

“I said I would stop when I turned 60. I’m 61 now, so I’m just going to keep going!” Nelson laughed. “I never wanted to be famous, I just wanted to make a little dent in a lot of people’s hearts or minds.”

Nelson says with so many bags still left to make, she’s asking for donations from those in the community of small items or candy to include in her bags. You can drop them off at her home located on 18th Ave. S. and Cherry St. You can’t miss her home!