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illustration of Ms. Bat and a teddy bear

Dress Up on Dexter

Visions of a zombie army inspired the Hackbarths' changing tableaux.

by Anita LeBlanc

From the August, 2021 issue

Could someone shed light on the red granite marker at their feet? What's with the man on the bench sporting a Hawaiian shirt, a blond Fu Manchu beard and mustache, and a bouquet of silk flowers?

Welcome to Brent and Staci Hackbarth's year-round front-yard tableaux. It started about three years ago, Staci says, when "we wanted to make a big zombie scene for Halloween, and we were coming across mannequins in stores going out of business and on Craigslist." After the holiday, "we decided to just leave a few out, and we just kind of decided to change them up to go with the seasons."

Why Batman? "I just love Batman!" she exclaims. "I'm a Batman fanatic. And when we put Batman out for Halloween, we remembered we had a Batgirl outfit so decided to give him a girlfriend." At Halloween, there's also a Bruce Wayne memorial among the plastic tombstones in their make-believe cemetery--as well as an eighteen-foot-tall Grim Reaper hanging from their flagpole, his thirteen-foot cape billowing in the wind. There's also a mock guillotine, faux ravens and crows in the trees, and "more lights and blowups than you can imagine."

Staci says that they don't get many trick-or-treaters because of their location on a main road. To make sure everyone knows about their month-long celebration and goodies, she spreads the word on Facebook and Nextdoor.

At Christmastime the gent on the bench wears a Santa suit. Come spring, he'll be the Easter Bunny.

The couple are currently paying a summer homage to their granddaughter with a little girl mannequin in a colorful dress, black straw hat, and Mary Jane shoes. The two-foot-tall vintage chalk piggy bank next to her was Staci's mother's. There's a big plastic wicker chair with an oversized teddy bear in front of Mr. and Ms. Bat--a perfect spot for a photo op for the many passersby asking to take pictures.

What about the granite stone in front of them that

...continued below...

reads Mary Jo Hackbarth--does a relative rest there or is it holding a place for one? Staci says that her mother-in-law is not buried there, nor are there plans for any other Hackbarth to fill the space.

"My in-laws were big Harley fans, so much so that the American Harley-'Davidson dealership on Jackson Rd. put an engraved marker in her honor by a big tree on their property," she explains. "When the dealership closed, the 'Weingartz lawn and snow equipment company [bought the building and] gave us the headstone."

The couple still dream of a Walking Dead zombie army but need more

mannequins to fully realize their vision. With new mannequins running around $475-$500 and used ones $300-400, though, the cost is prohibitive. They encourage anyone interested

in donating mannequins for the project to stop by.     (end of article)

[Originally published in August, 2021.]


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