Neighbourhood rivalry takes on spooky Halloween edge

As October 31 draws to a close, Karen Bootten is putting the final touches to a decorative "tour de force" she's been installing since Sunday in the front garden of her Landscape Rd villa in Mt Eden, Auckland. 

Two giant spiders sway in the wind, a two-headed baby guards the front steps and "Karen's cousin" sits on a bench by the garage door, holding an enormous rat on a leash. 

"That's my cousin Todd," says Ms Bootten. "He's living in New York at the moment, but he's here in spirit."

"Karen's cousin" Todd.
"Karen's cousin" Todd. Photo credit: Newshub

Across the road, Jo McKeown and husband Greg are also preparing for an influx of trick-or-treaters.

Last year, they had slightly fewer than 600 kids through the front gate, a figure Joe calculated, based on the amount of individually bagged lollies they handed out the night.

"They go into their own little plastic things, so there's not little fingers all over the lollies."

The two neighbours have been decorating their houses for more than a decade and in that time, a friendly rivalry has sprung up between them.

"There used to be a little competition about who was the best and, probably more from the children's point of view, you know, we're better than you this year" says Ms McKeown.

Neighbourhood rivalry takes on spooky Halloween edge
Photo credit: Newshub

Ms Bootten is more candid about the friendly neighbourhood rivalry. 

"Jo across the road started... the next year we started competing."

So you're quite competitive then?

"Yes, just a little bit."

Ms Bootten says Halloween is definitely growing in popularity. 

In recent years, the neighbourhood has seen "van-loads" of kids coming from as far away as south Auckland.

"The kids dress up and they have a ball. They make an effort too, so it makes it more fun."

Ms McKeown says many people still don't like the celebration, but encourages them to look past the commercialised aspects of Halloween.

"If you... look at the fact that the kids are having fun and getting dressed up, and spending time with their mum's and dad's in the evening… it's good."