Andrew Dys

Ghouls rule at Rock Hill haunt

Mark McDonald puts a mask on a dummy hanging from a tree in his mother's yard on Eden Terrace across from the Winthrop Coliseum in Rock Hill on Monday. McDonald made the dummies to decorate the yard for Halloween.
Mark McDonald puts a mask on a dummy hanging from a tree in his mother's yard on Eden Terrace across from the Winthrop Coliseum in Rock Hill on Monday. McDonald made the dummies to decorate the yard for Halloween.

The silver Pontiac slowed, four heads inside spun in unison, then the car turned around before stopping in front of the carnage.

A dozen bodies at a house on Eden Terrace, smack across the street from the Winthrop Coliseum, will cause a U-turn. Not just bodies sitting on the porch, though, but standing and lying and sitting on the roof. One ghoul hung feet-up by a rope.

A couple of the uglier ghouls smoked cigarettes. Marlboro Lights, I think -- king-sized.

"Those two are waving," said DeQuanna Massey from the back seat of the Pontiac. She pointed. Sure enough, two rough-looking customers waved from the porch. "I might have had a heart attack."

The bodies are fakes, of course, dummies rigged up by Mark McDonald at his family's house. The driver of the silver Pontiac car, Shaquanna Scruggs, said, "It looked so real, it scared me there for a minute. I just had to come back and be sure."

McDonald has had the dummies up -- all dressed in his old clothes, down to an old pair of wing tips on one and cowboy boots on another -- for a few days, prompting the curious to stop. The next-door neighbor, Chris Brandon, said people stop "all the time" for pictures and video. McDonald had one spotlight to make the scene even more head-turning, but that candlepower wasn't enough, so he rigged up another.

"One lady, she went right up there and had her picture made on the porch, right next to that dead guy on the step," said Brandon, the neighbor.

The house is where McDonald and his brother, Charlie, grew up. Betty, momma who lives elsewhere these days, said the idea is great.

"Mark, he sure is creative," Betty said.

Charlie McDonald, who works across the street at Winthrop Farm, said he can't ride by at work without seeing somebody stop to look at all the ghouls.

Mark McDonald's first dummies featured bags as stuffing for the bodies, but it was too much hassle, "so I just built these frames with wood, and put my clothes on 'em," McDonald said.

He buys the masks but takes them off at night. "Some sneak had stolen the ones down here one time," he said.

There's dummies in jeans and coveralls and one in a Kansas City Chiefs football jacket and cap -- "I always rooted for those Chiefs," says McDonald -- and even a golfer in mid-swing wearing a gold hat. The detailed McDonald stuck a tee in the ground with a golf ball on top waiting to be smacked.

If it rains, "they just get wet," McDonald said. "Doubt any of these dummies will be complaining too much, either."

'What the ...'

One woman going by Monday in the passenger side of a minivan waved and waved until she finally realized that the people on the porch were not real people. I'm no lip reader, but that woman as clear as day said, "What the ..."

Then, whoever was driving stomped on the gas, and that minivan was gone.

McDonald hasn't spent much money, but he's gained much delight. The pasty pale-faced ghoul hanging by his feet is alive, McDonald said, "But he's uncomfortable in a kind of Halloween spirit way, there hanging by his feet."

There's a couple of ghouls side by side on the roof. "I think of those two as me and my girlfriend, but don't tell her I said that," Mark McDonald said. "She might think I'm calling her a dummy."

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