‘A Very, Very Trump Halloween' Draws Crowds to Alameda House

Bay Area resident Dan Balsam says he thinks Halloween is the perfect occasion to exercise his First Amendment rights - and he's doing that by making a political statement on his own front yard

What to Know

  • Dan Balsam says his family has always decorated for Halloween
  • Last year's Trump Halloween was a hit with their mostly-liberal neighbors
  • This year, "Part Duh" is bigger, with a growing graveyard for departed Trump cabinet members

"Even before Trump was elected, we've done Halloween decorations," Dan Balsam said as he stood in a yard covered in plastic spiders and cobwebs.

But last year, Balsam said Halloween took on a different meaning for his unabashedly liberal family.

Though he knows not everyone shares the family's left-leaning political views, Balsam said he felt Halloween — which typically falls right before Election Day — was the perfect occasion for them to express their First Amendment rights. Balsam has never been shy about his opinions, but he admits this latest exercise in free expression takes that boldness to a next level.

"This is sort of like a Michael Moore movie: there's obviously a very biased perspective," Balsam said. "We're making a statement of what we think, and that's what you're looking at."

With an attic full of animatronic characters, the family set to work building "A Very, Very Trump Halloween" in their front yard in Alameda. They debuted it on a quiet day in October, 2017. It didn't stay quiet for long — and for the most part, the neighborhood embraced it.

"When isn't it the right holiday to talk about what's going on in this country?" said neighbor Maureen de Coste. "Two weeks outside of an election — sure, why not?" 

This year, the Balsams are back with "Part Duh" of their Trump Halloween display, including new administration officials, and new gravestones for those who've departed the White House.

"It's so amazing, because it's so up to date," commented Joyce Rinck as she took a walk with her daughter at dusk.

Neighbor Sally McKinney was also impressed with the effort and detail that went into the display.

"There's a lot to see," she said, and joked, "I wouldn't want to be here at nighttime because it would be too scary for me."

Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
In the Balsams' front yard at Union St. and San Antonio Ave. in Alameda, zombies, skeletons and demons are painstakingly dressed up to resemble members of the Trump administration. Here, a spooky embodiment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions looks around for someone to prosecute as he swings from a tree branch.

Whatever their own political beliefs, passers-by said they were on board with the Balsams' very public exercise in free speech. 

"You're definitely stating your opinion, so that's good," said Vander Von Stroheim, passing through the neighborhood in the setting sun. 

"I don't know if everybody would agree with his politics," said Connie Hutchinson. "But that's the fun of it."

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