Inmates at Clay County Jail understood the assignment.
Using plywood and shop tools, it didn’t take long for them to produce a full-size replica of a coffin, complete with a cross on the removable top.
It can fit a body up to six feet tall, but this vessel was never meant to be lowered into a hole for a final resting place. Instead, it was built for children to dig candy from it.
The coffin, now in its second year as the centerpiece of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Halloween celebration, is no full-blown haunted house. But in lieu of one, it provides a sufficiently spooky aesthetic.
“(The idea) came from one of my employees,” Sheriff Eddie Scott said. “They wanted to do a haunted house. But because of logistics, trying to get people in and out, we can’t go around behind the building because of the jail, so we really just didn’t have the room. So, that’s when they came up with the idea to use a coffin.”
CCSO started leaning into the Halloween spirit five years ago, Scott said. Since the coffin was added last year, it has been a huge hit.
“It’s a wooden coffin, so you’re not just going up to get candy, you’re experiencing Halloween,” said Lisa Klutts, director of community development for West Point-Clay County Growth Alliance. “The props and the decorations that go with it are really cool. It’s a cool concept.”
It is set up at CCSO weeks ahead of Halloween, and the public is asked to fill it with candy donations. The candy collected will be offered to children at the office’s annual trick-or-treating event Halloween night.
So far, candy donations have filled the coffin twice with a week to go before All Hallows Eve.
“(Participation) has been great,” Scott said. “We’ve had businesses bring in candy. We’ve had organizations like some of our bike clubs and such bring in candy (as well as) individuals. I don’t know how many people we’ve had come through.”
CCSO’s Halloween event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Scott said the goal is to offer a safe place for kids to experience trick-or-treating in a controlled environment.
“As long as kids keep showing up, we are going to be out there,” he said. “We just try to set a time, but it’s really 5:30 until. … With the way times are now, it’s dangerous going door-to-door. There’s the safety of the kids and then you have to worry about what the kids are getting put in their buckets.”
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