Welcome to ‘Skeletown’: Fort Wayne couple shares backstory behind impressive Halloween display


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – For the last several years, a Fort Wayne couple has brought frights for all ages with a massive Halloween display that currently resides in the Southwood Park neighborhood.

Nicknamed “Skeletown,” Roger Dau and Shawna Stream-Dau first concocted the idea about 10 years ago while shopping for Halloween decorations. The pair went into a store to purchase some tombstones, but they then thought it was best to go all out.

“If we’re going to do a Halloween display, we’ve got to do a Halloween display,” Shawna said.

Years after brainstorming the idea, Shawna has adopted the title as the mayor of Skeletown, while Roger is the town’s mechanic.

Over the years, the pair scoured antique stores and other department stores to buy props like tombstones, skeletons and even clothes. The clothes go through a “corpsification” process where they are buried in the Dau’s backyard and watered for several weeks. By the time Halloween rolls around, the clothes are decayed and look like they belong on an actual corpse.

Meanwhile, Roger also installs motors to create interactive displays like a jack-in-the-box, a pirate drinking rum and a baby corpse

After years of work from Roger and Shawna, the two install have installed 35 skeletons, plus dozens of other Halloween props, on the front lawn of Shawna’s mother’s house on Indiana Avenue.

While it takes much work to put together, Roger and Shawna feel rewarded when members of the community come out to see the display every Halloween.

“It’s tough when we’re setting up, when it’s raining, and you’re tired and something’s not working right you get a little frustrated,” Roger admitted. “But when the kids come through and their eyes light up and this giant smile (comes up). And what’s funny is, they’re not scared!”

Interested in purchasing any of the displays? Contact Roger Dau at this number

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Due to factors such as storage costs and maintenance, Roger and Shawna are selling most of the display after this season. They will keep some items, but most are up for sale.

The two have received interest from potential buyers, yet they would prefer to keep the items around Fort Wayne so the community can continue to enjoy these figures every Halloween.

“We’ve had people come over and talk about how it’s just become such a part of the culture of the neighborhood, and sometimes people are distraught that we’re selling any of it,” Shawna said. “We want to keep it here, if we can.”

Until then, the Fort Wayne community is invited to check out the display from now until Halloween. Guests are encouraged to bring non-perishable foods as Roger and Shawna are also collecting donations for Community Harvest food bank. Two years ago, over 500 pounds of food was collected, and the two hope to surpass that number this year.

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