Visualizing the Wealth Gap: Halloween Edition

Every year, I look forward to the giant, inflatable dragon airing its wings in Beechview. It is the largest decoration in a small yard overflowing with inflatable ghosts and a giant spider, a witch on a broom, lights, pumpkins, and leaves. Many neighborhoods vie for the best and most prolific displays of Christmas lights. If there were a similar contest for Halloween, this modest-sized house with the dragon seems to me the cream of the crop in a neighborhood with a prolific smorgasbord of Halloween lights and decorations.

This year, I discovered a possible competitor for the title in Shadyside along Pittsburgh’s most intact millionaire’s row. On a lawn that is probably bigger than the footprint of the dragon house is an elaborate, customized ghost wedding. Across the street on a slightly smaller lawn, an 8-10 ft high, gleaming, ceramic clown holds court over a multitude of companions (minions?) of similar sinister and expensive cast.

On seeing these displays, my stomach sank. I felt a loss and a disappointment that this neighborhood may steal the crown for best Halloween decorations due to the unfair advantage of having more disposable wealth. I suppose it really comes down to what is the measure for determining the winning neighborhood: quantity, quality, per capita, density, creativity, or exuberance.

2 thoughts on “Visualizing the Wealth Gap: Halloween Edition

  1. Would it help to frame these as gifts to the community rather than a competition? From each according to ability has a nice ring to it…

    My criteria might be strangeness, which isn’t necessarily expensive. A good halloween display facilitates the suspension of disbelief and revives the possiblity of magic or the supernatural. The best I’ve seen recently was in Swissvale a year or two ago: a yard made into Area 51 with fencing, convicing military-style warning signs and an appropriately repainted old jeep parked on the steep hillside. Another house nearby had what appeared to be a glowing sarcophogas out in front. In retrospect it might’ve been a modified tanning bed, but it was an unsettling thing to glimpse unexpectedly while driving past at dusk.

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