Wellington Man’s ‘Tombstone’ Display A Halloween Tradition

Joey Olsen stands in front of his collection of Halloween “tombstones” at his house on Jackpine Street in Wellington.

Joey Olsen and his family have lived at 1309 Jackpine Street in Wellington since 1977, and for the past 32 years, Olsen has been decorating his yard for Halloween with an elaborate display of handcrafted tombstones.

It all started in 1985, when Olsen got his idea from the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, which has a tombstone in front of it with the words, “Here lies big old Fred, he died because a rock fell on his head.”

Olsen has followed this template as a playful jab in prose, while a few of his stones are more serious, honoring a friend or relative who has passed away. He explained that the 274 tombstones in his collection are adorned with the year when he met the person that each grave marker is about.

Putting out such an elaborate display during hurricane season can be an issue. Olsen said hurricanes Wilma and Matthew caused some minor damage to some of the pieces — and knocked down much of the display — but he was able to reassemble it rather quickly.

He also plays a running soundtrack with most of the music or dialogue coming from movies that tie into the various tombstones in the display.

“I just like to celebrate Halloween and have fun with my friends and relatives,” Olsen said. “It’s something I really enjoy.”

He added that his annual Christmas display is just as elaborate and will be ready for onlookers shortly.