Despite his name, Fred the Dead doesn’t have the guts to scare neighborhood kids. He doesn’t have the heart, either. He doesn’t have any internal organs at all.
Fred is a 12-foot-tall Home Depot skeleton — and he’s a hot commodity. The metal-framed monsters can be spotted this time of year towering over Colorado neighborhoods, from cityscapes to rural farmland.
Halloween fiends lucky enough to get their hands on the coveted décor can consider themselves members of an exclusive club; Home Depot won’t say how many of the skeletons it has sold, but Tyler Pelfrey, brand communications manager for the home-improvement giant, confirmed the behemoth box of bones has sold out every year since its 2020 debut.
Calls to Home Depot stores in Glendale, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Fort Collins this week confirmed — occasionally with a harumph of incredulous laughter from a sales associate for even deigning to hope — that the 12-foot-tall skeleton was out of stock.
On Facebook Marketplace, price gougers across the metropolitan area were peddling the bipedal set of bones, which retails for $299, at prices between $350 and $599.
Has fame gone straight to the skeletons’ giant, plastic heads? Erin Moriarty-Siler doesn’t think so. Instead, Fred the Dead has brought residents of the Berkeley neighborhood in northwest Denver together, she said.
All Moriarty-Siler wanted for her and her husband’s eight-year anniversary this year was one of the 12-foot skeletons. The size and splendor were too much for a Halloween fanatic to pass up. The Denverite had been eyeing the big guy since he first went on sale three years ago, but the stars never aligned on securing one.
Moriarty-Siler thought her family missed the orthopedic opportunity again this year — until her husband came home with the huge box in the back of his car after striking a deal with a Facebook Marketplace reseller in Centennial.
The eighth anniversary is henceforth the bones anniversary in the Moriarty-Siler household.
“I immediately started sobbing,” said Moriarty-Siler, who happened to be wearing a skeleton shirt on the fateful day of Fred’s arrival. “It’s the best gift ever. It was kismet.”
Fred the Dead — Moriarty-Siler’s name for her bony buddy — was born that day with a crowd of awed neighbors assembled around the skeleton as it was erected into the sky, joining other holiday ornaments including more minuscule bony figurines, pumpkins and witch hats scattered around their yard.
Like many who manage to nab the giant skeleton, Moriarty-Siler plans to leave Fred up year-round, theming him in seasonally appropriate ways with Santa hats, Valentine hearts and the like.
“I’ll reach out and high-five him”
Loveland’s Kerri Sewolt is another skeleton year-rounder — mostly because Sewolt doesn’t know how else to store the heavyweight Halloween decoration.
“I don’t have an HOA, and I’m known as the Halloween Lady in my neighborhood anyway, so it’s fitting,” she said.
Sewolt has been the proud owner of a giant Home Depot skeleton since 2021 after being beguiled by its stature the first time she laid eyes on one a year prior.
Last summer, Sewolt received a complaint from a neighbor who was trying to sell their home, she said, and asked Sewolt to take the skeleton down.
“My snarky neighbor moved away and, luckily, the people who bought her house love my year-round décor enough that they thought it was a sign to buy the house,” Sewolt said. “I love my skeleton. He makes me so happy. I’ll reach out to high-five him as I’m walking into the house and tell him, ‘Hey, stay sexy.’”
Sewolt had seen other giant skeleton displays where homeowners had dressed their Halloween centerpieces like oversized dolls. Determined, she purchased a 4XL-sized Hawaiian shirt and pantsuit for the summer months, but “failed miserably” when it came to figuring out how to get the fabric over the massive prop.
Nevertheless, Sewolt credits her skeleton for inspiring others in the neighborhood to go hard on their Halloween décor. Fellow giant skeletons have appeared in her ‘hood, much to Sewolt’s delight.
“I don’t think it’s a competition,” Sewolt said. “I think of it more as, like, a skeleton community, if you will.”
“No good place to store him”
Grand Junction’s Deb Kennard also believes it takes a village to raise a skeleton.
Erin Moriarty-Siler digs a leafy grave for an unnamed skeleton at her home in Denver on Wednesday, October 25, 2023. Erin received a large decorative skeleton named Fred the Dead as an anniversary gift from her husband. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
Someone in Kennard’s community — Kennard may or may not be privy as to who — purchased a hulking skeleton and has been moving the thing around the neighborhood at night to surprise the kids.
The skeleton in Kennard’s neighborhood — named Bob the Bones by the local children — is a cousin of the Home Depot variety; it’s 10 feet tall and hails from Walmart, where it was actually in stock as opposed to its taller Home Depot counterpart.
The network of neighbors toting Bob from yard to yard is tight-lipped to preserve the sanctity of the myth of the mobile skeleton, but Bob’s lore is growing taller than his frame.
One family somehow hauled Bob onto the roof and arranged him to appear like he was headed down the chimney. Another home gave Bob the garden hose to test out his green thumb. Another family popped a second skeleton on Bob’s shoulders.
“I don’t even know whose house he’s at now, and that’s great,” Kennard said. “It’s turned into a good thing. There’s no good place to store him, so he can just stay out forever.”