October 27, 2010 Edition

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Copelands offer haunted fun

Aubrey "Sarge" and Ralphaine Copeland often receive comments about the skeleton in their yard that is mounted to an old bicycle.
TD Photo ~ Shantelle Prater
Shantelle Prater
Staff Writer

Trick-or-treaters are guaranteed a Halloween treat on Saturday at the Copelands' residence at the corner of Southwest Third and West Pine streets in Walnut Ridge. Aubrey "Sarge" and Ralphaine Copeland have been spreading the holiday cheer since 2005, when they moved to Walnut Ridge from Lynn.

"It's the perfect house to decorate," Ralphaine said. "All the kids in the area think it's haunted."

While the couple decorates their home every year, it started out as a hobby for Aubrey.

"This is his passion," said Ralphaine. "He just likes all the cute things you can buy for Halloween."

Aubrey, who admits to being a "skeleton freak," noted that the couple purchases decorations each year.

"I see something cute and I just have to have it," Ralphaine said, who purchases decorations at specialty shops and online.

"We would buy a lot more decorations if they could be placed outside," Aubrey said.

The couple begins decorating for the holiday at the beginning of October and receives help from family members, including their son, Brett, and daughter, Tammi, both of Hoxie.

In addition to an increase in decorations over the last five years, the number of trick-or-treaters has also increased.

"We have new kids come every year," said Ralphaine. When the couple first began decorating their home in 2005, approximately 15 children stopped at the house on Halloween for candy. Last year, more than 200 children knocked on the couple's door.

"This is all about the kids, and their parents get a big enjoyment out of it as well," Aubrey said with a smile. "A lot of kids don't get a lot, and I want to give them what I can."

The couple has also made a large impact on the community scenery.

"People are constantly driving by and some even drive by multiple times," said Ralphaine. "We don't try to have anything to scare the kids, it's all for entertainment."

In December, the couple also plans to decorate their home in Christmas decorations.

"We have as many Christmas decorations as we do Halloween decorations," Ralphaine said.

Aubrey, also known as "Sarge," retired from the military after 22 years, and now works in maintenance at Walmart. Ralphaine, who served as book processor for the Lawrence County Library, retired in September.

The couple, who will celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary in December, have five children, Tammi, Jeff, Brett, Tonja and Sean, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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