Vandalism will not stop the spirit of the Schaller Family
Story By Jon Szerlag
VANDALISM IS MORE THAN JUST A CRIME OF DESTRUCTION of property, especially when it is personal property. for one oak park family, a pumpkin thrown at their window after Halloween had them rethinking their ongoing efforts to transform their home into a local extravaganza and holiday landmark
for the community.
For some, Halloween may be just a day for a quick scare and for children to get candy. For others, it is something more. It is a tradition that seems to be faltering, moving underground as the popularity of Trunk-or-Treat and other similar events take the stage for a safe alternative to going door-to-door shouting “Trick or Treat!”
For the Schaller family, October — especially the night of Halloween — is something to be proud of. Their house, both outside and in, has become a traditional holiday landmark known for elaborate decorations and costumes. “It’s part of an atmosphere,” said Chris Schaller. “It’s a family event, and other families are involved in it as well. We all remember when we were little kids. Trick-or-treating was different back then. It was fun. We want the kids to feel that and keep that tradition alive. [Halloween] is a time for the community to get together, and we are a part of that. We offer a sense of community and a sense of nostalgia and a little part of tradition, hoping that this torch will be carried on with some little kid saying I want to do that.”
All of that almost came to a halt when their son was woken in the middle of the night to a crash which shook the house and knocked numerous items off a wall, including a collectable cuckoo clock. Their son thought someone was trying to break into their house, then noticed the items on the floor and thought they just fell. When he left for work the next day, he noticed that some of the decorations were damaged, and someone had thrown a pumpkin at a window with such force it knocked all of the items off the wall inside. The Schaller family has been decorating their house for four years, and never had any concerns or problems.
“This is the first time someone has messed with our decorations,” said Linda Schaller. “People come by…and they respect it. This year was the first year someone did something. It was my fears being realized for the first time. I am hesitant on how much we will do because I don’t want it to happen again.” Although this act of vandalism, of personal disrespect, shook more than just their walls of their home, the Schallers’ will not let this stop them from continuing their tradition.
“We are not going to let one bad seed spoil all we give to the community, and what the community gives to us,” said Chris Schaller. But he did add that they will take some more precautions moving forward, like moving the pumpkins to the backyard and taking larger, expensive items in at night.
“Growing up, getting a candy bar was such a great treat. It was the highlight of the year: the costume mom made for you, becoming the superhero of the moment. It’s good for parents and the community. And people and kids remember us from the year before and look forward to coming here. We are not going to let one person, or group of kids spoil it for the roughly 200 kids we had this year. We are going to keep it going.”