‘The Helpful Hearse,’ and canned goods for charity
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of 5 articles naming the winners of the 2023 Authenti-CITY awards given by the City of Covington at a ceremony last Thursday to mark National Economic Development Week. More about the awards can be found at the bottom of this article).
COVINGTON, Ky. – Richard Webster is a prime example of what can happen when a parent helps a child with a school project. It can take on a life of its own and become a veritable neighborhood attraction.
“It started with my son, who needed a volunteer project for his school, and from that it morphed into what it is today,” said Webster.
‘What it is today’ is a magnificently over-the-top seasonal display that can’t be missed, and not just because it takes up two parking spaces (which, by the way, are obtained in advance with proper permits because, as a retired Covington police officer, Webster knows the rules).
Days before October, Webster hauls out between 50 and 60 decorations from storage, including skeletons, full-sized scary animatronics, spiders, and ghosts. Then he parks a hearse in front of his property in the 800 block of Main Street in MainStrasse Village and commences to decorate in the spirit of the season.
There’s a charitable element too: in the weeks building up to Halloween, neighbors and visitors who stop by to enjoy the frights also donate 1,000 to 2000 lbs. of canned goods, which Webster puts in the hearse and delivers to Be Concerned, The People’s Pantry. (Hence the name, “The Helpful Hearse.”)
“All my neighbors love it,” said Webster. “I have families who come here every single day in October.”
For Webster, watching the kids enjoy the decorations is the real treat.
“I like to scare the kids just a little bit … but I’m careful they don’t get too scared and run out in traffic,” he said.
Webster tries to keep the Halloween décor up for the entire month of October. When the creepy creatures come down, Webster gets but a brief respite before it’s time to give as much decorative play to Christmas.
But over the years, he’s noticed something:
“The crazy thing is, when I put up my Christmas decorations, people stop by and are asking about Halloween,” Webster said.
Here in The Cov, it seems, neighbors are partial to skeletons over Santas.
(In addition to infusing the city with holiday spirit, Webster, who was Covington’s first Bike Patrol officer and is currently with the Park Hills Police Department, has spent 18 years as the off-duty officer at the Kenton County Public Library’s Covington Branch as the evening attendant.)
About the awards: The first-annual Authenti-CITY awards were unveiled by Covington’s fun and irreverent Economic Development team in 2021 to celebrate National Economic Development Week in an off-the-wall way.
There were no rules and no criteria – just staffers getting together after hours (maybe over a few drinks, maybe not) and debating fiercely about what businesses, places, events, people and organizations most “kept it real” in The Cov. The fervor had to do with this: Narrowing down the massive list (because, you know, Covington is such a cool place).
# # #