Nobody loved Halloween decorations quite like Curtis Keelin Sr.
If you’ve stopped by the Rock Springs Historical Museum (RSHM) this month, you’ve probably noticed a window full of spooky decorations with pockets of orange plastic pumpkins thrown in the mix.
Before those festive decorations made it to the museum, they were once proudly displayed at Keelin’s house in Reliance, Wyoming.
Throughout the years, visitors to Keelin’s house were treated to his large collection of homemade and store-bought decorations.
Outside of his love for Halloween, Keelin worked for FMC as a welder for 50 years and owned the Concrete Palace, a statuary shop. Although it wasn’t a pumpkin or ghoul, Keelin is responsible for the famous 4,500 pound gorilla statue on Elk Street in Rock Springs.
In 2008, when Keelin could no longer decorate his yard, he made the decision to donate his entire Halloween collection to the museum. While his long-standing tradition of transforming his yard each October stopped, a new one soon began at the museum.
Museum staff, along with Keelin, put his decorations to use by dressing up the jail at the museum. The tradition has continued for over a decade, entertaining hundreds of people each October.
This year, due to COVID-19, the museum decided to create an exhibit in the fire station as the jail doesn’t have the room for social distancing. Keelin’s Halloween exhibit can be viewed in the evenings as people are passing by and for those walking by during the day.
“We are delighted to show off the Keelin collection, complete with light from 7 pm to 11 pm and spooky music from 7:30 pm to 8 pm every night in October,” RSHM Administrative Assistant Richelle Rawlings-Carroll said.
Keelin has since passed away, but his Halloween spirit lives on each October as current staff members at the museum carry on the tradition.