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If you pass by a certain porch in the Baxter neighborhood in Fort Mill, South Carolina this month, you're sure to see some rattly inhabitants. They might be enjoying a bubble bath, scarfing down ice cream cones, playing soccer or even carving a pumpkin of their own.
They're the "Baxter Skeletons," two plastic dime-store skeletons who change their costumes and backdrop daily in October, much to the delight of neighborhood residents.
The skeletons, owned by Steve Miller and Tracy Adams, were originally a one-shot joke that began in 2013. Miller and Adams often sat out on their porch, and as the weather got colder, they thought it would be funny to set the skeletons where they used to sit.
Then, when Miller shifted the skeletons' location one day, a neighbor noted out loud, "They move!"
To keep up the game, Miller decided to keep on relocating the skeletons, and when he ran out of places to move them around the porch, he started giving them daily tasks. Now it's a treasured neighborhood tradition.
"A lot of our neighbors thought all this was quite spectacular," Miller told TODAY.com. "We are now known as 'The Skeleton People' and live in 'The Skeleton House.'"
Miller and Adams, both graphic designers, don't just throw sweaters on the skeletons and call it good. They plan out each scenario and work for hours to get them right. For the ice cream day, they fashioned cones using Styrofoam balls covered with spray insulation foam, with colorful rubber bats replacing rainbow sprinkles. There's even a plop of spilled "ice cream" near one of the skeletons' bony feet.
A scene showing the skeletons breaking up a sidewalk was Miller's favorite so far this year. He'd originally planned to draw a realistic hole on the sidewalk with chalk, but shifted gears when that didn't work out and instead piled up broken chunks of concrete and drew cracks on the ground. He placed the chalk in a box and invited visitors to sign in. "The sidewalk was soon covered with names of all the visiting kids," he said. "It was the interaction that made it cool."
Miller works from home, and enjoys watching the reaction of those who pass by. "The scenes are never gory or macabre," he said. "I love it when we are surrounded by kids and they are all yelling out what their favorite (scenes) were."
Neighbors like to offer suggestions or props — if you're the person who volunteered to loan Miller some kayaks so the skeletons can go paddling, he'd still love to take you up on that. But the work and expense mainly falls to Miller and Adams, who find it worthwhile and plan to continue it every October for as long as they can.
"We go out and talk to visitors and they tell us how much they love that we do this," Miller said. "Or that they send (photos) to their son in Afghanistan and to sick children at St. Jude's Hospital. That's what keeps us going. Doing this every day takes its toll, but we just remember how much joy these two little dime-store skeletons bring to people."
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