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In her words: She was a Christmas baby, but Royer’s designer Linda Stokes is a child of Halloween

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I’ve loved Halloween since I was little, growing up in the Reading area.

I remember going around our small neighborhood with my Dad, who would dress up, too, maybe as a clown or in another costume. My mother would stay home and tend to the kids who came trick-or-treating at our house.

Dad definitely was more into it than my mother, but she was a seamstress and made costumes for me and my two older sisters. The best one was the Tin Man from the “Wizard of Oz,” around the time I was in fifth grade.

In those days, Herr’s potato chips came in a cardboard container. That was the basis for my Tin Man’s head, spray-painted silver with cloth underneath it for my comfort. The body was made of cardboard, too. Mom was very crafty.

Family tradition

As I tell my husband, Tom, I never have too much Halloween. I hate to say it: I was born on Christmas Day, but I like Halloween better. It’s a family tradition: my father’s mother used to throw Halloween parties and passed on her decorations to my parents and, ultimately, me.

My two older sisters aren’t passionate about Halloween like I am. I think I went over the limit!

Linda Stokes is a designer and assistant manager at Royer’s in Ephrata.

I’ve been with Royer’s since 1984. I’m a designer and a couple years ago added assistant manager responsibilities at the Ephrata store, where I’ve spent most of my years with the company. Before Royer’s, I worked for seven years at a Reading florist.

I used to dress up for Halloween at work. One year, I was a character from the musical “Cats,” complete with ears and a tail. It was hard to work in, though!

Royer’s sells Halloween arrangements and gifts, of course, but I especially love it when customers come in seeking a custom piece. It fires my imagination, and I enjoy the challenge of capturing the customer’s vision.

Besides the arrangements on our website, our store will come up with original pieces, too. I just see what products are in our store at the time and work with them: It might be a pumpkin with a face on it that I incorporate into an arrangement.

We have such a cute line of containers this year, including ceramic mummy heads, that would work great for custom pieces.

But Halloween isn’t just a work thing for me. In fact, it’s an even bigger part of my life at home in Reamstown.

Decorating at home

We don’t get many trick-or-treaters, but we decorate our house inside and out and host a themed costume party every year. There’s a pinata (it’s funny to see adults dive-bombing for candy when the pinata opens) and a pumpkin-pitching contest (launched from our deck to a target below).

As with so many traditions this year, the party is on hiatus because of the pandemic. For that reason, I’m only decorating three rooms instead of the whole house.

My antique pieces were made in the United States and Germany. These lanterns and die-cuts, featuring cats, witches, devil faces, are made of paper and cardboard and are fragile. I display them year-round in a curved glass cabinet.

I keep adding to my collection, too. This year, I bought four die-cut pieces from the 1920s featuring a pirate, scarecrow, skeleton and witch.

My collection also includes four mannequins and 10 animatronic characters that I dress up and display in the house. I must have 20 to 25 plastic totes filled with Halloween items; they take up an entire room in the house and three-quarters of Tom’s workshop.

Tom’s a good sport when it comes to indulging my love of all things Halloween, but even he has limits.

One year, I tried to put handkerchiefs on our two huskies. Tom said, no, we don’t need to dress up our dogs.

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