Homeowners create Bendyland to help raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
There is a harvester of souls.
There is a 12-foot witch.
There is a large demon-like figure with a warning.
And skeletons, too. Lots of skeletons.
“I’ve always loved Halloween. I never went to the extreme of decorating like I do now, though,” said Ben Roussel, who creates his display outside of his home located at 4714 NE 43rd Street in Vancouver.
“It’s for the community. Everyone’s out here. They enjoy it. We do it every year for them,” he said.
Oh, and for a bigger cause, too.
The scary characters, with lights, fire, and loud noises, aren’t that scary after all when considering their mission. These ghosts and goblins and working together to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
There are dozens of Clark County members of the Northwest Haunters Association. There is a map with all the homeowners who invite the public to visit their displays. But as of this writing, there is only one display in Oregon and Washington that is part of Skeletons for St. Jude.
The fundraiser started in North Carolina in 2020 when a homeowner decided to ask for donations to St. Jude from those who visited his Halloween display.
Last year, the program expanded nationwide. More than 2,000 homeowners ended up donating to the cause.
Ben and Trish Roussel do not have any personal experience with St. Jude. But they have been donating to the hospital for years.
“I just believe in what they’re doing. Your child has cancer, you shouldn’t have to worry about the bills,” Ben Roussel said. “We just believe in their mission.”
And they believe in the power of a fun Halloween display.
On Thursday, neighbors came over for another visit. Ben said he has a great relationship with his neighbors, who all seem to appreciate the display and understand the traffic that the display attracts.
One neighbor, 11-year-old Bella Schmid, took over as the social media director for what is called Bendyland. Bella’s mom, Michelle, would not allow Bella to have her own social media account. But the family jumped at the opportunity for Bella to show off her skills to help Ben out with the project.
Ben had a minor presence on Facebook and Instagram, but Bella has made Bendyland go viral on Tik Tok and Twitter. She posts at least one video a day, and some of those videos have hundreds of views.
Ben started the display in 2019. It was an immediate su ccess in the neighborhood. He started adding to his collection this last couple of years.
He puts up a digital sign that starts with 99 days until Halloween. The countdown starts.
In September, he starts to put out the display, piece by piece.
“When are you going to light it up?” a neighbor asked last month.
One gets the feeling that if it were up to Ben, he would turn it on in August. But he promised his wife he would not go “live” until October.
Well, the haunts are alive now.
The Roussel haunt is open for visitors every day from dusk until 10 p.m. Special effects, including lighting and fire, are operational on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Halloween.
For more information on Skeletons for St. Jude, go here: https://skeletonsforhope.org/
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