For the past 20 years, he has decorated his yard for Halloween. He doesn’t invite a select few. The entire city is welcome to see the efforts of his work at 512 South Main St.
“Over the years, it’s just kept getting bigger and bigger,” said Stewart. “I keep track of how many trick or treaters we have every year. Last year we had 612, and we fed 85 people. People bring chili, soup, sandwiches and drinks, and we just have a ball.”
It’s not just people from Piedmont that come to see his yard. One woman comes from Atlanta and there are several from nearby towns who make it a habit to show up every year.
Stewart said it takes two or three days to decorate his yard. Then, about two days before Halloween, he puts out last minute decorations.
“You really don’t want everything out there every day, because if it rains, it’ll ruin it. I try to hold back a few things. Basically I have to get all my electrical cords out of the way and get them nailed down into the ground so they won’t be a threat to the kids when they’re in the yard. I don’t want them tripping over them.”
Stewart said he enjoys seeing children in their Halloween costumes.
“I love to watch the children enjoy it,” he said. “It’s just a lot of fun. We try to hand out a good bit of candy. As many children as we’ve had over the years, we’ve never run out of candy. Usually, I give most of what’s left over to the last trick or treater, but I always keep a bag for me. I love chocolate.”
Stewart said he doesn’t care how old his trick or treaters are.
“If they want a piece of candy, all they have to do is come to my place,” he said. “We get a lot of babies and children younger than a year old. I try to have boxes of animal crackers just for them ’cause babies don’t need chocolate.”
Stewart’s wife’s nephew, Steven Glover, who owns Lovers by Glover, made him a popular decoration last year, which Stewart will put in the yard again this year. It’s the grim reaper in a casket.
Stewart said he buys new blow-ups every year to add to the others.
Stewart was born and reared in Piedmont. His parents are the late Ralph and Lois Jean (Bath) Stewart. His brother, Mike, lives in Decatur.
Stewart and his wife, the former Toni Glover, have a daughter, Megan, who is in her third year of nursing at Jacksonville State University.
He retired three years ago after a 35 year career as a welder at Anniston Army Depot.
When he was a student at Piedmont High School, his class visited Ayers Trade School one day. That’s where he got the idea to be a welder. After graduating from PHS, he attended Ayers to learn to weld.
Stewart enjoys riding his motorcycle.
“Last year, a friend and I went to Sturgis, S.D., one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the United States. A lot of times we’ll just go riding. We’ll go over to Atlanta and find us a restaurant to eat at. Or we’ll go up in the mountains toward Gatlinburg.”
At one time, Stewart hunted and fished. He can no longer do that. A few years ago, he had a light stroke which left the muscles in his legs weak.
He and his family are members of First United Methodist Church.
Contact Margaret at email@example.com.