The house at 1407 Russell Road in Delray is completely decked and ready for Halloween trick-and-treaters.
Photo by Louise Krafft.
”It’s like being a kid all over again. You get to create your own little world. One that everyone else gets to enjoy with you,” says Tami Sarjeant, owner of 1407 Russell Road in the Del Ray area of Alexandria. Also known as the “pirate lady,” the pirates and other nefarious characters take over her property around Halloween time. Her house on Russell Road has also won the Del Ray Best House Decoration award in 2011 and the Hall of Fame award in 2012.
Several pieces were custom-designed. “My contractor Romalo Pol works with me to build the ship, jail and throne. We build everything from scratch. That’s why it looks a bit different from year to year. Somehow the ship keeps getting larger and larger.”
To get it all done on-time, she gets help from other community members. “Sheriff Dana Lawhorne generously helps out. From painting when I’m at work, to helping with the heavy lifting. And the new flying bats are his creation.”
It takes Sarjeant over a month and a half of working every night and all weekend to get the house ready. There is a large ship festooned with rascally pirates, sharks sticking out of the lawn, skulls galore, smoking cauldrons of various sizes, drunken sailors, and stray cats and spiders. New elements are added every year. In fact, adding them is the favorite aspect for Ms. Sarjeant. Among the additions are new 3D waves added to the pirate ship: “The 3D waves were great fun …. It’s worth every bruise, scrape, and broken nail when you see how much the kids enjoy it.” Other additions include more witches, Wizard of Oz elements, and an elusive black cat — “Look for him before he finds you,” she said.
And the project keeps growing bigger every year. Sarjeant used to store all the pieces in her basement, but now rents out storage units to manage the project. “Two years ago I ran out of room so I had to rent a storage unit. This year I have two.”
But the community support and enthusiasm is all worth it.
“It’s nice to see some of the same faces year after year, watching them grow up. They come out night after night to see what new pieces have gone up since the previous visit. To give the families something fun that they can do together, come together as a community … that’s what living in Del Ray/Rosemont is all about.”