Dolls, corpses, zombies and skeletons are just the beginning for Mississippi couple’s yard of haunts

Published 5:30 am Thursday, October 20, 2022

Dummies Sally and Henry Strong hang from the trees at a home on West Meadowbrook. Tombstones are propped up against the pine trees.

Kerri Herndon did not stop there. Flayed skeletons hang over a roasting fire, hands reach out of a pallet, heads are on sticks, Jason and Michael Myers are holding a podcast about how “Those Teenagers deserved it, prove me wrong.”

Dolls consume the organs of a bisected corpse, a clown rides a bicycle, zombies try to break out of a barn and a group of dolls are carrying away a body in a trash bag. There is a lot to take in when you stop by the Herndon House.

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“What made me step up my game is my neighbors have a six-year-old grandson. Last year he walked by and asked ‘Is that all I was going to do,’” she said. “That was all I needed. We can thank him for not being impressed. I try to be practical and frugal so I do not buy a ton of stuff. Some other neighbors come through each week to see what I have added. They talked me into having a grand finale.”

She loves to decorate the inside of her home for the holidays but the elaborate Halloween decorations started in 2016. At the time, they lived at the Henry Strong House off I-55’s North Brookhaven Exit. They did horse training through Herndon Quarter Horses and decided to turn the plantation house into a haunted house one weekend.

She was left with a lot of decorations from the haunted house and decided to decorate her yard each year. The following year she decided to hang a dummy of Sally Strong which drew some controversy.

All of the talk about Sally pushed her to go all the way with Halloween decor. Henry Strong was added to the mix and then each year she has added on to it. She said not many people decorate for Halloween anymore.

Haunted houses and horror movies don’t scare her so she tries to bring the same concepts to the yard. Most scenes are just gross or gory and there are no religious references anywhere or any pentagrams.

Herndon attends Central Baptist Church and said on Nov. 1 everything will come down and they will begin work on their Christmas decorations next.

“It goes from gore to Jesus. We enjoy decorating,” she said. “I love to decorate for Easter and I always have big parties for the kids during the holidays. Easter is my favorite holiday.”

Dummies in the yard are stuffed with old clothes, pillows, packing peanuts and old paper. She buys skeletons to use as a form and flexible foam is often used as the organs. The flayed skeletons hanging over a fire was a tough process, she said.

They are skeletons wrapped in cellophane. Dolls were purchased online to add an additional layer of spookiness. One of her favorite additions to the decor is a pale fright dressed in a black coat. It is named Employment, “Everyone seems to be so scared of it,” she said.

A clown stands on their front porch. He is part of the family and will come out in February dressed in purple, green and gold to celebrate Mardi Gras. His name is Mark Hale, she said.

She enjoys pushing the envelope with decorations and said that if the severed heads on sticks are not too much, maybe the spooky dolls and clowns are. It takes about a month to get everything up before Halloween.

“How can I top this next year? How can you get more disturbing and gross than this?” she said. “We have plans for next year to do different stuff.”

In the off season, decorations are stored in a storage shed and in a bedroom in their house. It is micro-managed so she can find things. Her husband Billy said it can take a lot of work to get the decorations out of the house.

“This is fun. I’m a little more reserved and she can push the envelope a lot more than I can,” he said. “It has been neat to see how the public can come through and look, trying to enjoy the theme of the year.”

It should be a destination on Halloween night for people to stop by for trick-or-treating and to enjoy the yard of horror. Kerri said she will have good candy to give out.