OTTAWA -- After COVID-19 cancelled most Halloween antics in Ottawa, Alain Nantel and his son Alexandre decided they would not let the pandemic snuff out their jack-o-lanterns.

With trick-or-treating and parties out for 2020, they decided to build animatronic displays, which have changed daily since Oct. 19.

The 12-days of Halloween are their contribution to keeping the Halloween spirit alive in their Little Italy neighbourhood.

"What is the objective of Halloween? Is it really gathering candy or is Halloween about the spirit, about the atmosphere," Nantel said.  "The message I’m trying to convey to my son is perspective. You can have a negative perspective, you can have a positive perspective, it’s really how you deal with the obstacle."

With limited space and unpredictable weather, they decided to bring the outdoor decorations inside each evening, which led to the idea of changing the setup each day. Neighbours in the area now stop by every morning to see what new horrors await.

"We think it’s awesome! We just live around the corner, so every morning we come around the corner and don’t quite know what we are going to find," Colin Beckworth said. 

Little Italy Halloween

Nantel estimates he’s spent close to $4,000 to create his horror masterpieces and has documented each day with posts, photos and videos on his Facebook page. The displays have become so popular that word has spread on Reddit and other social media sites, leading to people coming from all over the city to view the spectacle .

"People from Gloucester, from Barrhaven are driving downtown because they had seen this, so I realized I’d created a monster and had to commit to it, “ Nantel said.

After the success this year, Nantel plans to make this an annual tradition, even hinting he will have something up to celebrate Christmas this year.

Watching people visit his front lawn, Nantel’s son Alexandre has a broad smile on his face as he points out where and why they picked each item. 

"This made me happy because the people it’s like for them it’s cool for them they know there’s a Halloween for them."