Suburban boy honors late father’s love of Halloween with yard display


CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — An 11-year-old from Crystal Lake has come up with a unique way to honor his late father: Halloween decorations.

Gavin Sckiackitano’s father, Jeff Sciackitano was a huge fan of Halloween. He proposed to his wife on Halloween and even had a daughter born on Halloween. Needless to say, the family yard was always decked out in all its spooky glory.

This is the first Halloween without him. Sckiackitano lost his battle to Stage Four cancer this year.

As Halloween approached, Gavin’s mom Denise Sckiackitano could tell her son was having a hard time. 

That’s until Gavin decided to use his dad’s favorite holiday as a way to honor him.

He went to work in the garage, hammering, welding and attaching small motors to his handcrafted creations. The commotion caught the attention of several neighbor kids who would gather to watch from the driveway.

“The thing I hear the most is, ‘Does your Mom know you’re doing that?’” Gavin said.

She did. Denise Sckiackitano said watching Gavin pick up where his dad left off has been bittersweet.

“It’s just incredible to see him build all this stuff. I know Jeff would be so proud,” she said.

When the Crystal Lake Home Depot heard that Gavin was using his birthday money to buy yard decorations, they invited him to come by and pick out whatever he liked for free.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Gavin said. “All I could say was ‘Wow!’”.

One of the store managers had also lost his own father earlier this year.

“His heart was out there for Gavin. It was just a really special morning. We were all in tears at Home Depot,” Denise Sckiackitano said.

Since then Gavin has spent countless hours installing glowing pumpkins, purple lights and a grim reaper guaranteed to make even the most seasoned jump.

More information on The Home Depot Foundation here. The family has also setup a GoFundMe page

“This yard means everything to Gavin right now,” Denise Sckiackitano said.

Their yard is washed in spirit and light in hopes it’s bright enough for a dad to see it from above. 

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