Halloween has become big business, especially among wealthy homeowners looking to out-scare and out-spend their neighbors.
Total spending on Halloween this year is expected to top $7 billion, most of it in costumes and candy. But home decorating is also expected to nab about $2 billion in sales, according to The National Retail Federation, and we're not talking scarecrows or a few pumpkins on the porch.
Instead, today's haunted mansion owners are hiring professional production companies and bringing in stage lighting, actors, Broadway-quality sets and sound systems.
Cliff Witmyer, CEO and founder of Cliffhanger Productions in New Jersey, is one of the top Halloween decorators to the rich and famous. His projects can carry a price tag of more than $20,000.
This year, he's turning a mansion in Alpine, New Jersey, into a scene from "The Walking Dead," including a half-dozen actors who will play zombies, a hearse and lots of spooky smoke and lighting.
Last year 2,000 kids came to trick-or-treat at this particular estate—so many that the owner now employs two off-duty police to keep traffic flowing.
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"You're literally going to see people walking out of the graves," Witmyer said. "I'm going to show up in the hearse later, a big theatrical production."
Witmyer's creations have also taken over the home of CC Sabathia, the famous New York Yankees pitcher who lives nearby. This year, Sabathia's house will be decked out in a "Frozen" theme.
Despite this lighter take on the ghoulish holiday, Witmyer said the hot costume this year for the mansions of the rich and famous is zombies.
"All of a sudden it's zombies," he said. " 'The Walking Dead' is the number 1 television show right now... everyone wants to be a zombie, dead rock star, dead celebrity—dead is just in."