Original Published on Oct 24, 2022 at 11:05
South River ON business’s gigantic Halloween display keeps on growing
By Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Corner Wines in South River is once again entertaining residents and people driving by the small business on Highway 124 with its annual outdoor giant Halloween floats and decorations.
Owners Martha Jacobs and Tim Hainsworth have been decorating their parking lot for the past six years ever since Jacobs first picked up a giant pumpkin float at a garage sale and displayed it outdoors.
“We set it up in the parking lot just for fun that first year and then the second year we bought the giant cat and it grew from there,” Jacobs said.
The statement is not an exaggeration.
The Corner Wines parking lot has three giant monster floats, three giant ghosts on top of one another, the 20-foot-high black cat and a smaller 10-foot-high cat, pumpkin people and a throne made of bones straddled by skeletons people can sit on and have their picture taken.
Other items include a skeleton fisherman Jacobs and Hainsworth have named Steve after a friend of theirs who loves to fish and hunt, some pumpkin people in a living room setting and then odds and ends.
There are easily hundreds of pieces the couple put together when the smaller items are considered.
At the beginning of October, Jacobs takes all the pieces out of storage and begins the assembly process.
She says it takes about two weeks, which includes painting some pieces and then everything is placed outdoors on the parking lot during the Thanksgiving weekend.
She adds from that point on the maintenance takes over especially on windy days.
Jacobs and Hainsworth can’t have their floats blown away and have made customized stakes that hold them in place on the parking lot surface.
Hainsworth says each year the business owners add to their Halloween decorations and floats and they stick to the Halloween themed subjects.
“We want the generic Halloween items rather than floats like Snoopy or a Disney float,” Hainsworth said.
Hainsworth is the former owner of the Algonquin Motel.
He moved to the area in 1987 from Southern Ontario to buy the motel and later sold it when he bought the building that now houses Corner Wines.
Jacobs, who is from Cincinnati, and Hainsworth met when she vacationed in the area and fell in love with the rural setting.
The Corner Wines building has gone through a number of businesses over the decades prior to Hainsworth and Jacobs opening their wine-making shop.
Hainsworth says part of the building is 100 years old and used to be a dairy.
Public reaction to the floats has been very positive and each year young children get excited when the floats once again make their Halloween appearance.
Hainsworth says the kids will say things like “I remember that piece from last year” while Jacobs adds the children love the detail in the display because there are always new and different things to see from one year to the next.
People are more than welcome to walk through the area and take pictures of the floats or have their picture taken with the floats and decorated pieces and many do just that.
Hainsworth says just recently a family from Moosonee was travelling through and stopped when they saw the ghosts, goblins and monsters.
Hainsworth says the public is very respectful of the display.
He says it’s never been vandalized in any way.
Jacobs is also a crossing guard, and school children crossing the street she patrols will tell her whenever there is something wrong with any of the floats.
Jacobs says fortunately she can turn to Suzanne Learn who owns Algonquin Sewing Design Studio in Sundridge to repair any damaged piece.
Although the display continues to grow each year, Hainsworth says he doesn’t believe Corner Wines is at the limit just yet.
On Halloween day Corner Wines has a lot of treats for the ghosts and goblins coming by.
Jacobs says many of those treats are from Corner Wines’ customers.
“A lot of them live in the bush and they want to contribute,” she said.
“So they give us candy or money with which to buy candy.”
The Halloween display will come down Nov. 1.
But then after Remembrance Day, Hainsworth and Jacobs will replace it with their Christmas floats.
During the period when the parking lot isn’t used as a display base, Hainsworth and Jacobs convert it into a mini basketball court for kids.
They have three nets set up and nine basketballs.
This part of the parking lot has barriers in place and is not available for motor vehicle parking.