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‘Holiday Mike’ returns with decorative Halloween display in West Hamilton Beach

Oct. 17, 2023 By John Schilling

With Halloween fast approaching, the spooky season is already underway in West Hamilton Beach with “The Walking Dead Part Two,” a graveyard-like decoration display featuring elaborate figures and ghostly lights.

“The Walking Dead Part Two” graveyard decoration display. Photo by John Schilling

The man behind the eye-catching attraction, Michael Giglio, has decorated his house at 102-24 Rau Ct. in Howard Beach for the last 16 years as a labor of love for the people who travel from all over New York to check out his intricate, family-friendly display.

Michael Giglio welcomes visitors to his Halloween store. Photo by John Schilling

“I enjoy people coming by to see my hard work,” Giglio, 63, told QNS. “They call me ‘Holiday Mike.’”

Skeletons welcome guests into the graveyard. Photo by John Schilling

Each year, Giglio, a retiree from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, rotates between Halloween and Christmas due to the challenging task of putting up and maintaining the large-scale decorations on display. 

A zombie animatronic at a gravesite for Charles Manson. Photo by John Schilling

This year, a year of Halloween lights for Giglio, “The Walking Dead Part Two” features gravesites for notorious serial killers Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy. Other notable inclusions in the graveyard are the Crypt Keeper; The Creeper from “Jeepers Creepers;” Funzo the Clown; the Skeleton Dog; Frankenstein’s monster, which is Giglio’s personal favorite; and The Witch, a talking figure that is brand new for this year’s display. 

“The Walking Dead Part Two” is on display at 102-24 Rau Ct. until Oct. 31. Photo by John Schilling

In addition to the graveyard, Giglio’s house also features a Halloween store, as well as a new Pirates of the Caribbean-themed display with a group of skeletons dressed as pirates and a nearby speaker playing George Burns’ “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)” from the popular Disney ride.

The Pirates of the Caribbean-themed display. Photo by John Schilling

Giglio first began setting up the graveyard decorations on Aug. 14, a hot day with a temperature that reached as high as 87 degrees.

The brand-new talking Witch figure with her book of spells. Photo by John Schilling

“I was sweating.” Giglio recalled. “Many times I went down on my knees, I didn’t think I was actually going to get back up again,” he joked. “It was hard.”

“The Walking Dead Part Two” took one month and three weeks to set up. Photo by John Schilling

Inspired by “The Walking Dead,” the popular AMC TV series, Giglio’s 2021 graveyard display took on the same name. Ultimately, Giglio opted to approach this year’s graveyard as a direct sequel to his 2021 display, naming it “The Walking Dead Part Two.”

A flying Grim Reaper oversees the graveyard. Photo by John Schilling

After a month and three weeks of preparation and setting up, “The Walking Dead Part Two” was ready to go in time for the official opening on Oct. 1. Since then, Giglio has welcomed visitors to view the decorations from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, as well as from 6:30 p.m. to “whatever time” he feels like on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

A group of skeletons guard Giglio’s porch. Photo by John Schilling

In operating the decorations each year, one challenge for Giglio is his close proximity to the Hawtree Basin of Jamaica Bay. As a result, Giglio’s house was devastated during Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, as well as a flash flood three days before Christmas Eve in 2021.

The other challenge, according to Giglio, is the heavy lifting that goes into pulling off the decoration displays each year, a task he does all by himself. With that in mind, Giglio made the decision this year to put the lights and decorations up for sale so that he can retire in the near future. 

Giglio, however, says the decision is “not final” as he continues to plan for the years ahead, including a huge Christmas lights celebration in 2025 for his 45th anniversary of elaborate holiday decorating.

Still, Giglio maintains that his annual decorating tradition is not just for his own amusement but for the entire community.

“I want the community to understand that this is not here for me, this is not here for my family,” Giglio said. “This is here for you and your family.”

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