Every neighborhood has one house that goes all out on Halloween — but in Missoula, there's only one Hubbard Halloween house.
Sentinel High School junior Jack Hubbard and his father each year engineer a front yard Halloween exhibit rivaled by few. A pathway leads through the crowd of inflatable monsters, giant spiders, pumpkins and skeletons. The lineup is of a growing collection of inflatables, a niche hobby that began when Hubbard was young.
"It's ballooned, figuratively and literally," he said this week.
Hubbard is a showman — a singer, actor and performer in high school and occasionally with the Missoula Community Theater. His YouTube page has more than 475 subscribers. He's performed in Los Angeles for an outfit called Next Star Productions. He brings that kind of passion every October, setting the stage for each Halloween to outdo the last.
His family has lived on Coburg Lane off Lower Miller Creek Road for about 10 years. The Halloween traffic has boomed since the Jeannette Rankin Elementary School opened a year ago, he said. Last year, Hubbard said he clocked more than 500 trick-or-treaters at their door.
"More and more, it's such a safe neighborhood for the kids to come out, you can't even find a place to park on Halloween," said Tracy Hubbard, Jack's father.
Hubbard takes regular trips through the local Goodwill store, visits garage sales and scans eBay for new inflatables. He's also got an in on the inflatables through his part-time job at the Halloween Spirit store.
The infatuation with inflatables isn't limited to Halloween, either. The Hubbard family has an entire storage unit dedicated to inflatables and plastic figures for Halloween and Christmas, he said. The spark happened when Hubbard was just a little boy, when his dad would inflate and deflate a snowman over and over to his son's glee.
You have free articles remaining.
While the inflatables are Hubbard's hobby, Halloween is his annual exercise in creepy creativity. He's working on the production for the upcoming "Haunted Hallow" tours at the Missoula Carousel, a gig he got through his involvement with the Missoula Community Theater.
"Some people love to be scared," he said. "Some people love the jumps; others, it's the extreme terror. Halloween is a chance for people to indulge in that."
Tracy Hubbard said his son loves to "ham it up," whether it's in theater or working on a haunted house.
"I think that's everything for Jack," he said. "He likes to give back and see people smile and laugh."
While the display is elaborate, Hubbard is planning a straightforward grim reaper costume.
"I like to keep it simple," he said. That's a bold statement to make in front of a yard like his.
On Halloween Night, the festivities are a family affair. Hubbard said he likes to stay home, catch the trick-or-treaters and hang out with his family. For Hubbard, that's what Halloween, the inflatables and his path to becoming a performer have always been about.
"It's tied to entertaining people," Hubbard said, "but it's also tied to family. I've been doing this with my father for years. It's a bonding thing with my dad, and it means a lot to me to do it with him."