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She’s been described as a “good witch,” and those who see her around town this week will surely agree.
Every year, the entire week leading up to Halloween, Linda Ethington gets all decked out in her witch garb whenever she goes anywhere, even to the grocery store, she said.
“Everybody knows I’m crazy, and they just love it,” she said with a giggle.
Standing in her kitchen Friday afternoon, stirring a huge punchbowl full of “witch’s brew” she was preparing for guests that evening, Ethington explained how it came to be that her home is so lavishly decorated in a witch theme for Halloween each year.
“I like ghosts and jack o’ lanterns too, but I just love witches,” she said.
As she walked through her home, pointing out witch memorabilia in each room, one doesn’t know which witch to look at first, her décor or the lady herself.
Dressed in a chic black dress, which emphasizes her tiny waist, black high heels, and a wide-brimmed hat with a sheer black veil that accentuates sparkling green eyes and a doll-like face framed by blond hair, she appears far too fair for the witch image.
Her daughter, Lori Ethington, said she remembers a time when she was a child when her mother’s witch costumes were not quite so glamorous.
“She used to wear a fake nose when we [she and brother Lee] were little, but she doesn’t anymore,” she said. “We always looked forward to it [Halloween] because she made it such fun, and now our kids look forward to it.”
Although Ethington has two large witchy wreaths on her front and side doors and a witch silhouette in the yard, no one would suspect that the interior of the house is filled with attractions to fascinate, frighten, amuse and awe any guest who ventures through her door.
Visitors will not see any gory decorations in Ethington’s home, just the lighter side of Halloween, although some of the witches can be a bit intimidating to youngsters.
A life-size witch with green skin and wicked yellow eyes, brandishing a broomstick with a sensor-activated evil cackle, graces her back foyer. It’s this witch that her daughter-in-law, April Ethington, said her 4-year-old son is very afraid of.
“He won’t even try to go in that way,” she said, laughing, “and neither will Lori’s kids.”
Ethington’s dog, Bentley, may not be Toto, but he is also dressed up, in a jester’s outfit, a costume he seems to know demands attention.
“Oh, go sit down somewhere, anybody would think you’re the star of this show,” she told the little Beagle. “You’ll have to excuse him; he’ssucha ham.
A neighbor, Vonda Minnis, says she just can’t wait until Halloween each year.
“I think it’s wonderful, the way she goes all out,” Minnis said. “When it starts getting close to Halloween, you know she’s going to start decorating, and when she dresses up, she’s just such a joy to see.”
There are witches on tables, in corners, on countertops, beds and couches. Witches grace bathrooms, shower curtains, hand towels, toilet tops and salt-and-pepper shakers. Tall, pointy hats of every color and design are also on display in every room.
“This is my witch purse,” she said, proudly holding up a sinister looking witch’s face, opening the top of its head to reveal the inside of a purse.
And in her bedroom, where a long black cloak hangs on the wall, she paused to share a story of a visit to Salem, Mass., where she had a ghostly experience in a haunted inn a couple of years ago.
“Me and my sister, Martina, and my daughter, Lori, went to Salem and stayed at the Hawthorne Inn,” she said, her eyes wide with the tale she was about to impart. “My daughter heard a little girl running down the hallway, giggling. But it sounded eerie, so she came and got in the bed with me. She wouldn’t sleep by herself.”
The next morning, when checking out, they learned that other guests had been reporting that same ghostly laughter in that same hallway for years.
“I believe that some spirits have a harder time crossing over than others,” she said. “Don’t you?”
April Ethington said her mother-in-law’s favorite time of all is trick-or-treat night.
“She would never go anywhere on Halloween night because she wouldn’t miss dressing as a witch to give out candy,” April Ethington said.
Lori Ethington said she never can remember a time when her mother didn’t love witches, and she said she can’t imagine Halloween without her.
“It wasn’t only fun for us, but also for our friends,” she said. “And now it’s fun for our kids, her grandkids. It’s a tradition in our family. That’s just who my mom is.”