Last year in the midst of the pandemic, Auburn community member Kaleta Kingman-Gatz asked herself, “what can I do to bring smiles to the community?”
To find an answer to that question, Kingman-Gatz got together with some of her neighbors and came up with the idea to decorate their block on D Street for Halloween. They decided to call the project “D Street Lights.”
After coming up with the idea, Kingman-Gatz teamed up with her neighbor Jordyn Brandt, who has a background in DIY crafts, and they got to work decorating their houses, Kingman-Gatz said.
“Last year, I pulled everything out of my attic and my neighbor pulled everything out of his storage, then we went on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, Goodwill and we just snagged everything, every piece of outdoor Halloween decorations we could find,” Kingman-Gatz said. “Then Jordyn used some of her DIY creativity and came up with a lot of awesome ideas to make it even better.”
In total, they have eight houses decorated with lights, inflatable Halloween characters and a DIY graveyard on an empty lot between two of the houses on their block, Kingman-Gatz said. As night falls, the block comes alive with the lights and characters.
One of the motivations behind D Street Lights was creating some semblance of normalcy for kids during the pandemic, Brandt said.
“We wanted to bring some normalization for the kids, something for them to look forward to,” Brandt said.
They also took precautions to make everything COVID safe, Kingman-Gatz said.
“Last year, we opened up the cemetery and made it a walk-through and we had a candy station in there so that everyone wasn’t meeting on people’s small pathways,” Kingman-Gatz said.
D Street Lights was well received by the public last year. It helped people in more ways than expected, Kingman-Gatz said.
Last year, a few days before Halloween, Kingman-Gatz noticed a woman driving her car slowly down the street to look at all the decorations, so Kingman-Gatz invited them to come back on Halloween.
The woman in the car thanked Kingman-Gatz and explained that her son has a seizure disorder, so they have to take him on drives, and D Street Lights was something her son could enjoy without even getting out of the car, Kingman-Gatz said.
“We want kids to be able to enjoy Halloween, even if they aren’t comfortable getting out of the car and walking,” Kingman-Gatz said. “Last year we had one neighbor who made little bags of candy and was tossing them to vehicles so that even the young people who weren’t able to get out of their vehicles could still have that Halloween experience. We want kids to have that Halloween experience no matter what is happening.”
Kingman-Gatz said her inspiration behind D Street Lights actually came from her childhood. As a kid, Kingman-Gatz’s family didn’t celebrate holidays, but there was one house on their street that decorated their windows for every holiday.
“It was always a highlight for me whenever we drove past that house and I saw all the cool decorations,” Kingman-Gatz said. “So when I moved to D Street 13 years ago I wanted to recreate that for the kids around me so they would have something to look forward to.”
Kingman-Gatz has decorated her house for Halloween since she moved to D Street, but getting her neighbors involved has strengthened their community and has made the holidays even more special.
Kingman-Gatz and Brandt encourage anyone and everyone to visit D Street Lights on Halloween. The block is located on D Street Southeast in between Auburn Way South and 10th Street Southeast. They ask that folks don’t park in front of the houses so that people can enjoy the decorations from their vehicles if they’re unable to walk through.
They plan on doing the same thing come Christmastime, Kingman-Gatz said. You can find D Street Lights under that name on Facebook for updates and information.
Auburn has a host of activities and events to do this holiday season.
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