Gardener Raises Bumper Crop of Ghouls

Hands that actually move reach up from the graves in Florencio Morales' front yard in Montecito Heights. Eerie background music sets the mood for the ghosts, goblins, witches, skeletons and werewolves lurking about.

The macabre production has made Morales a legend in his neighborhood, and his holiday decorations attract visitors from as far away as Mexico and Italy to his home at 4225 Griffin Ave., creating small traffic jams--especially on Halloween.

Morales, 40, began the tradition of decorating his front yard on holidays eight years ago with a single, grisly figure--a hanged man--on Halloween. Each year, the displays have become more elaborate. Morales, a gardener, digs into his own pocket to foot the bill for putting up the scenes.

His Halloween display--overseen by a huge devil atop his house--has led some superstitious visitors to call him brujo , witch in Spanish. A fundamentalist minister prayed for his salvation after seeing the decorations.

Morales, who dons a Dracula costume as part of his show, explained to the minister that he also puts up decorations at Christmas and other holidays. And Halloween is as much a time for laughter as anything, he said. How else to explain the cigar in his werewolf's mouth?

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