Matt Groves' favorite holiday was Halloween. His parents, John and Teresa, say he was fascinated with it.
Matt Groves’ favorite holiday was Halloween. His parents, John and Teresa, say he was fascinated with it. It took precedence even over Christmas.
He was always on the lookout for elaborate Halloween decor and even made his own decorations.
On March 11, 2011, Matt and a friend stopped to help a stranded motorist push their car off of the road in the area of Eisenhower and Hughes roads when they were struck from behind by a drunk driver. Matt died from his injuries. He was 21 years old.
As his parents still mourn the loss of their son, they honor him in many ways. And at this time of year, they celebrate his love of Halloween by devoting time to Matt’s passion for decorating.
They have been avid Halloween decorators since they first bought their home in 1984. They now have about 30 large, spooky pieces in their front yard. The inside of their home is also adorned with Halloween lights and displays.
Matt’s grave is also decorated by his parents.
“All the decorations in our yard are pretty much standard,” says John. “You might say the ones that hook up to the ‘fog’ machine are the most unique and sometimes difficult to find. They take the longest to set up. Due to the weather conditions in our area, they wear out in just a few years and we need to replace them.”
One of the Groves’ favorite memories of Matt was when he was a boy carving pumpkins using Pumpkin Masters patterns. They say he was always fascinated when they were completed.
“Matt really had no favorite costume, as long as he could dress up, wear a mask, go out and scare people he was happy,” says John. “As far as decorations the more elaborate, the better. Animated ones were his favorites.”
The Groves’ home is on a cul-de-sac and they don’t normally get a lot of traffic passing by. When their neighborhood was new they had a lot of trick-or-treaters, but not so many in recent years.
But everyone who sees their display always compliments them on their decorations and word of mouth has increased the number of curious viewers.
John says that many people love Halloween because it is an excuse to go out and have fun with friends and family and a good way to pretend to be a character they would like to be.
For John and Teresa, the most important thing about the many hours of decorating they do each year is honoring their son. And they would like him to be remembered as a kind, fun-loving young man who was always willing to help anyone in need.
“He was described by his friends as a person who would give a homeless person the coat off his back even if he knew he would freeze to death himself,” says John. “Matt was an accomplished trumpet player and also loved playing bass guitar. Matt was very humble and never spoke of his many accomplishments. He loved life and enjoyed it fully in the time he was on this Earth. He was becoming quite a man, loved by everyone. Matt was an exceptional human being who will be in the hearts of all who knew him, especially his family. We also have a memory garden in our front yard for Matt, and one of the statuaries has a poem with these words, ‘A golden heart stopped beating, hard-working hands at rest; God broke our hearts to prove to us, he only takes the best.”’
John also stresses, “If you’re going out on Halloween, have a great time. If you’re drinking, please get a designated driver or call a cab. If you can afford to buy alcohol, you can afford a few bucks to have someone else take you home. The life you save may be your own.”