WEST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – A family in West Hartford turned their annual “over-the-top” Halloween display into a history lesson.

A multi-paneled Halloween display at the home on North Main Street has gone up every year.

“I’m trying to send an important message,” said Matt Warshauer, history professor, Central Connecticut State University.

This is the 17th year Warshauer has been putting together Halloween displays with the help of friends and family.

“We paint and prime everything and then we do a storyboard and then map out everything and map out what each panel is going to say,” Warshauer said.

The themes change each year.

The two themes of this year’s display were the origins of Black Lives Matter and coronavirus.

“These to me, and I think to a lot of people in this state and in the country, are the two leading political, cultural issues of our time,” Warshauer said.

Once the two themes were solidified, it took about three weeks for the eight panels to be completed.

Warshauer called it a different way to approach some serious subjects.

He gained a reputation for the displays in the West Hartford community.

The panels form a timeline of the history.

“The final panel is the meaning of BLM and why it has garnered such attention and gained such traction in American society,” he explained. “My focus is not anti-police, I’m not anti-police.”

Joggers often paused to look.

Cars drove by and pulled over to the side of the road.

The message resonated with people like Elizabeth Vozzola of West Hartford, who was among those who paused to reflect.

“This year when I walked over to see this panel, I was just in tears,” Vozzola said.

On the other side of the display, the coronavirus panel was decorated with COVID-19 molecules and paid tribute to those who passed away from the pandemic.

Warshauer said the best part about creating a new display each year was chatting with people on the sidewalk.

“The conversations are fantastic and that’s the point of the entire display,” he said.

He wanted to spark conversations and get people to consider other viewpoints.

Copyright 2020 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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