Halloween spectacle fueled by man’s desire to give back

Rick Peszko spent a month staging his haunted yard to spread a little spooky fun and help area organizations

RICK PESZKO IS well known around Belgium for transforming his yard into a haunted maze and house each Halloween. This year, he is asking attendees to donate food or money for Family Sharing and money for the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Rick Peszko’s effort to attract trick-or-treaters has soared to new heights — or  sunk to scary new lows — for anyone who has seen his yard.

But the Eerie Street Cemetery at 281 N. Middle Rd., Belgium, while devilish in design, carries a positive purpose.

Peszko loves having visitors enjoy his yard and haunted house, and he would like it if they make a monetary donation to the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and/or drop nonperishable food items into a bucket for Family Sharing.

Another bucket sits in his yard, but there’s no confusing the charitable one with the 55-gallon drum that has a skeleton leaning over it, vomiting colored water in a display created by Peszko’s son-in-law. A water pump keeps the fake bile going, and Peszko added the finishing touch of green spray foam to make it look like liquid is bubbling over the top.

That’s one of a few new features to Peszko’s yard this year. His maze is a little larger, and he added a joker and jester, as well as a creature caged in a box he describes as a “monster clown” — one of several items he picked up from the Hartford Jaycees when they decided not to do a haunted house this year.

Peszko tries to expand each year, but this season was the biggest challenge of the past six. He collects items year round and starts serious shopping in early fall, but even ghouls and ghosts couldn’t escape the grasp of the national supply chain shortage of goods.

“Skeletons are pretty popular and they are very hard to come by this year. Halloween in general was very hard to come by this year,” Peszko said.

“It took some creativity to figure out what you were going to do.”

Peszko was up to the task. He has new fence posts, an old man made of fiberglass that’s “kind of creepy looking,” and a mad-scientist skeleton dragging an old army cot  with another skeleton on the stretcher.

Eerie Street Cemetery includes a celebration as well. Bride and groom skeletons have two groomsmen and bridesmaids at their nuptials.

The props are impressive, but Peszko said the part he is most proud of is his haunted house. Peszko even bought a car port this year and put a tarp over it so it could survive the weather.

“At least six people this weekend will be running around (scaring visitors),” he said.

It’s a family affair. His wife Rhonda, two sons, son-in-law and father-in-law are participating. His daughter and daughter-in-law might skip this year since they just had babies.

The family started setting the scene the last Saturday in September. Peszko works on his passion around his first-shift job as a production scheduler at a warehouse, and his wife helps after her workday as an executive assistant for Aurora Healthcare.

Peszko has a method to his charitable madness.

“I’m in a position now where my wife and I are able to put this together and able to give back to people who have helped us and who we like,” he said.

Peszko has collected food for Family Sharing before, and on Oct. 16 he went on the Honor Flight with his father Gordon, who served in the Army in Vietnam.

“It was just such a neat experience. He was so moved by it,” Rick Peszko said. “You know what, we’re going to add that to (the cemetery) this year as well.”

Peszko’s haunted yard started years ago.

“When we first moved into this house we got 10 trick-or-treaters,” he said.

“I started small, put a couple of gravestones, some cheap plastic fence and a couple of PVC pipe monsters. I look back at my pictures when I thought I had something and think, ‘That was cute.’”

He now attracts many more trick-or-treaters as well as adults of all ages.

Peszko contemplated not doing the haunted yard one year, but word got around and one of the neighborhood children left a handwritten note in his mailbox singing the praises of his Halloween decor and haunted house.

That inspired Peszko to keep going.

“Just to be able to do that and have people go, ‘This is great, this is so much fun,’” is what makes it worthwhile, he said.

The creativity he uses to construct his frightening displays will last well past Halloween this year.

“I don’t have a basement. This year, I put myself over the top. I’m going to have to figure out some storage,” he said.

Otherwise, a real scare might come Peszko’s way.

“My wife is going to throw me out of the house soon if I buy any more stuff,” he said.

Eerie Street Cemetery opened last weekend and will be open Friday from 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. — the earlier start is for young children — and Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. Trick-or-treating in Belgium is from 4 to 7 p.m.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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